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Reverse-painting (or something similar) on Mirrors

Hey guys: I've got a slight conundrum and I'm wondering if anyone here has ever done this and, if so, what methods/tools you may have used that produced good results.

I've got an idea for a little craft project: I wanna remove the paint/silver backing off of a mirror and paint-in the cleared-off areas with scenery, objects, designs, etc.

So the basic end result I want is: to have your regular reflective mirror with pictures that show through painted on the backside of it.

Now, I've done some reasearch on the subject and I've read up on using paint stripper & nitric or muriatic acid to remove the silver backing; the toxic possibilities of these chemicals, lead, etc.
I know you can use a razor-blade scraper, putty knife or something similar to literally scratch the silver backing off, thus exposing the plain glass to paint on. I know you run the risk of scratching the glass up by doing this, but let's face it: if you wanna do a really intricate design, chemical applications really won't produce the crisp lines you'll want to make a good-looking decorator mirror.

Arrow The designs I'd really like to paint are kinda complicated; something akin to Mehndi henna tattoos. (or maybe a long, branching ivy vine encircling a round mirror)

So I guess what I'm asking is: If you've ever done something like this, what tool did you use to scratch off the silver mirror backing with and did it scratch the glass up in the process?


Did you use a completely different process than either one I've mentioned that worked well and, if so, what are the steps, precautions, etc?

Thank you, in advance, for anyone who takes the time to help me out with any advice/instructions. Smile
I always thought this silver foil on the back of your mirror was there to make your mirror a miror (when you remove it, you can't see any reflection again...)
Well I don't know if it's true...
It would be almost impossible to reapply the refective coating.
To achieve the effect, I would paint right on the mirror.
Then mount it in a picture frame with a piece of cover glass over it.
Confused Um, I think there's a bit of misunderstanding here - I don't want to put the the reflective coating back onto the glass after removing it.
And I'm well aware that wherever I remove the silver backing there will no longer be a reflective surface... that's the idea.
I want to paint the places where I remove the reflective coating.

Thanks for the idea about painting on the front side of the mirror & using a piece of cover glass, jwellsy, but I wanna make something that will actually sit on a table or be the lid of a jewelry box or something similar. I really wasn't thinking about anything that would hang on a wall.
This project will hopefully turn out to be something that people will touch & use, rather than just look at.
Hmm... so a piece of cover glass might still be a good precautionary measure.
Great idea, jwellsy! Applause

All I wanted to know was: if anyone knew of a good tool or method for removing the reflective coating from a mirror without scratching the glass underneath of it.
And I'm really looking for ideas about a non-scratching tool that could be used, so I could create detailed designs.

What about something plastic & hard - say a spatula or something similar?
I don't see how cardboard, even thick cardboard, would be stiff or strong enough to withstand the pressure.
Auto detailers use plastic single edge razor blades.
Water color painters use a masking fluid to cover an area they don't want to paint.
Maybe you could mask off the areas you want to save the silver,
then chemically strip off the parts you want to paint.
Thank you so much, jwellsy! Applause

I had thought about plastic razor blades, but I wasn't sure where you could purchase them.

I'm gonna look in some local stores around here and talk to an auto-detailing buddy of mine and see if he'll sell or give me a few. (I don't need 100 of them, although that's a great price on the site you showed me.)

As for the chemical solution... ehhh... I dunno. Think
I'm a little wary of using that sort of stuff. (And I'm sure it's more expensive than those razor blades.)

First and foremost, I'm gonna try to locate something that I may already have here around the house that might work. Surely, I've got something stiff & plastic that'll stand up to the pressure & constant scraping, yet won't damage the glass itself. ( It's probably in one of the junk drawers )

Thank you again, jwellsy, for all of your advice. I do appreciate it. Very Happy
I'm afraid I don't have any new suggestions that might help you with removing the silver from the mirror but I have done reverse painting on glass using oil paints.

If you do find or develope a technique that works and does give you a nice neat edge, I would be very interested knowing how you did it!!

Good luck with your project,
Glass is much harder than metal, so no metal tool you will use will scratch the glass no matter how hard you press- Mohs Scale of Hardness; glass, 7; metal 4.
Glass is much harder than metal, so no metal tool you will use will scratch the glass no matter how hard you press- Mohs Scale of Hardness; glass, 7; metal 4.

Ya know high-carbon steel lands in the 8-9 range on the Mohs scale, right?
Anyone have any photos of this kind of decorative mirror? Sounds really interesting.
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