Tutorial Tuesday: Fun with Silver – Creating Distressed Metal, Aged Pewter and Mercury Glass

It all started with those stupid birds that my wife insisted on buying.

Silver Birds

The day that we bought those silver birds we had a discussion that there was a “freeze on spending”.  You know the way it is…too much month and not enough money left. These birds came up as the deal of the day on decorsteals.com. You know the site – the one that has a different deal available for 24 hours only. Cathy loves that site and can’t wait to see the new deal each day. If you aren’t familiar with it, you should check it out but let me make this disclaimer first – it will put a dent in your wallet. Anyhow back to my story. When Cathy showed me the website and was oohing and aahing over how cute the birds were I thought to myself,  “What, there is a freeze on spending and you want to buy these?”  But, I didn’t say a word and before I know it, she’d clicked the keys necessary to make the purchase.  Well, of course she was right (that seems to be a theme in this blog).   She bought the birds and we have staged those dang things in so many photos and as decorations throughout our house.  Of course Cathy has done beautiful things with them and they have earned their keep. If you like the way these birds look, follow the part of our tutorial below on creating Pewter.  The look is very similar.   But, the point is that since we have bought those birds I have fallen in love with all things silver.  I honestly don’t know why but I do know that it started on that day with that purchase.  Weird.

There are lots of tutorials on creating the antique look of Mercury Glass, in fact there are so many of them that I don’t know how to source it correctly.  I’d like to give credit to the person that originally developed the technique but I honestly don’t know where it came from.  Anyhow, we have lots of art people on our blog that don’t know about the Mercury Glass look so I am going to repeat this tutorial for their benefit.  I will also add some additional information if you are after a variety of looks.  Hey folks, this is a look that ANYONE can do. This does not require lots of training or experience, just give it a shot…you will love the results and you can take thrift store finds from this

Plain Glass

to this

Mercury Glass

Basically I developed three different looks using silver as the base color: Mercury Glass, Heavily distressed Metal and Pewter.  I absolutely love all of them and the look that each gets is awesome but they are different.  My suggestion is to learn them all because they all have their place.  Also, I did not include a step photo with each step as some of the steps are so simple that a verbal explanation will be fine. Email me if you have any questions.

Both Distressed Metal and Pewter start with the same steps so I am going to cover them together.  I will give the steps to creating Mercury Glass separately.

Distressed Metal and Pewter

Step 1

Gather supplies including an unfinished glass object, Heritage MultiMedia Sealer, Heritage Carbon Black Paint, Brush, Spray Paint (I used  Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic finish), a spritz bottle with a mixture of half vinegar and half water and some crinkled up pieces of Saran Wrap.

Please Note: To create these looks we will use two kinds of silver spray paint.  One kind has a mirro-like finish and the other gives a less shiny, flatter look to the finished object.  The Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic finish spray paint is more appropriate for the Distressed Metal and Pewter look.

Step 2

Basecoat glass object with Heritage MultiMedia Sealer and dry well.

MultiSurface Sealer

Step 3

Brush mix Carbon Black paint with a bit of MultiSurface Sealer and paint the outside of the vase.

Black Basecoat

Dry well either by giving it a few hours to air dry or by force drying with a hair dryer.

Now this is the place where the two techniques differ a bit.

Step 4-(Pewter)

To complete this step you will need both the spray paint and a crinkled up piece of Saran Wrap.  Spray the outside of the object fairly liberally with the Rustoleum paint.  Allow it to set up for about 60 seconds and lightly pounce on the object with the crinkled up Saran Wrap to create the texture associated with this aged Pewter.  Allow some areas to remain a bit shiny by not pouncing on them.  Keep it random and don’t pounce so heavily that you remove the paint down to the black undercoat, start light and increase pressure as needed.

Pouncing with Saran Wrap

Step 4-Aged Metal

Spray the outside of the object fairly liberally with the Rustoleum spray paint. (Make sure that you shake the paint for the time specified on the can.)  Allow it to dry for about 20 minutes.  Please make sure that you spray in a well ventilated area!

Step 5-Pewter

Apply two coats of Heritage MultiMedia Gloss Varnish drying in between each coat. And below is the effect that you will have by the end. Isn’t she a beauty? I love this look.

Pewter Vase

Step 5-Distressed Metal

Wet a paper towel with the Vinegar/Water mix.  Spray the object with the vinegar solution and “dig” at some area’s with the pre-moistened paper towel creating a distressed look. With this particular kind of paint I had to apply a good bit of pressure to lift the silver paint off.  Remember that this look is heavily distressed so go for it!   Look at the final photo for the correct look.

Step 6-Distressed Metal

Apply two coats of Heritage MultiMedia Gloss Varnish.

Distressed Metal

Isn’t this fantastic? Can you see the difference between the two looks? The first one has the duller look of Pewter that has been aging for some time, while the second look of Distressed Metal looks worn with lots of age, wear and change to it. I can’t decide which I like better – I love them both!!

Cathy liked the look of this Pewter so much that she asked me to take this ugly outdated 80’s lamp and update it with the Pewter look.  Below is the before and after.  I would love to get some reactions to this.  What do you think? (Our oldest daughter FREAKED OUT when she saw this lamp – does it just appeal to young adults – please give us some insight?)

Lamp Before

Pewter lamp with accessory

Mercury Glass

 I love the shimmery and textured look of the mercury glass and it is so easy to recreate the same look using a few products.  This is one of those things that is so simple and yields such great results.

Step 1

Gather supplies including a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, Krylon Looking Glass Mirror spray paint (must be this exact paint), and thrift store glassware.  Don’t forget to use gloves and dropcloths to protect your skin and workspace.

Step 2

Tape off the unsprayed side of the glassware.  Looking Glass Mirror paint is different because it must be applied to the inside of the glassware so the outside of the object must be taped off to protect the surface from getting paint on it. (The previous techniques are done on the outside of the glassware.)

Taped Glass

Step 3

Paint the object. Hold the can close, less than 6 inches away, and apply a THIN coat to the inside of the glass object.  Allow it to dry for 60 seconds and repeat this step 4 more times remembering to shake the can intermittently while you work.

You will notice the most amazing thing…As the paint dries it goes from a dull grey to a shiny mirror like surface. VERY COOL!

Step 4 – Distressing the paint

Original Mercury Glass looks cracked and damaged.  This is an easy look to mimic with paint and the water/vinegar solution.  Spray the paint with the vinegar/water mix and let it sit for 40 to 60 seconds.  Soak a paper towel in this solution and rub the pant in a circular motion distressing the finish as little or as much as you would like.

Distressing Mercury Glass

After you are finished distressing, you have your own collection of Mercury Glass which you created for very little money.  Simply amazing!! Now have I have a third look I love – I can’t pick a favorite! Can you?

Candy Dish

Mercury Glass Vases

Mercury Glass Lamp

Mercury Glass Vases, Lamp, Dishes

What do you think? Do you have a favorite? All of the techniques are easy, yet the finished products are beautiful and elegant. Give them a try and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

By the way, we have four other tutorials on our blog. If you haven’t seen them yet, please visit our tutorial page to see them.

Thanks for visiting,


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