Framing a Memory

For my birthday last March my aunt J sent me a small antique Limoges mirror that had belonged to my Great Aunt Margaret. I really liked it, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what to do with it – I’m not the type of girl who carries a mirror in her purse, and it was too pretty to be just tossed into my purse where it would disappear to the bottom and probably get damaged. That said – I also didn’t want to store it away somewhere where nobody could admire it.

My birthday present

It took me a while to figure out to do with the mirror, and once that was figured out, it took even longer to find a key component for my idea to work. The plan was to frame the mirror in a shadow-box type frame. Unfortunately I couldn’t find exactly the type of frame I was looking for – I was looking for one where the glass was spaced about 1/2″ away from the back of the frame – all the frames I found had no space, or they were true shadow boxes for mementos and the glass was a couple of inches from the back of the frame.

After some fruitless searching at all the big box stores (and some little box ones as well), I finally found what I was looking for in a thrift store. My new frame cost $6 which, let’s be honest is a little steep for a thrift store, but it was just what I was looking for.

Thrift store frame

I decided that I was going to hang my mirror in the bathroom, so one of the first steps after completely dismantling the frame, cleaning, and then re-assembling it was to spray paint it silver to match the chrome accents in my bathroom. This was my first experience with spray paint, and quite a bit easier than I had thought.

Getting ready to paint

I taped off the glass on the front a back, and set the frame on some ‘Painter’s pyramids’ I had bought for another project but not used. I set the entire thing in a big cardboard box to spray as I was doing it inside (I don’t have a garage or outside space that’s solely mine).

Operation spray paint was a success

I decided that I would back the mirror with black velvet, but I needed to figure out a way to mount the mirror on the velvet. Two sided tape was out as it could potentially damage the mirror, but luckily the mirror was framed with a rope pattern that was constructed in such a way to leave tiny holes around the mirror. Using a beading needle and some clear thread I sewed the mirror onto the velvet using the tiny holes in the rope pattern to secure the mirror to the fabric.

I sewed the mirror in place (my stitching talent is a little lacking)

I then mounted the velvet on some thin cardboard (from a frozen pizza) using spray adhesive and placed it in the frame. I then added a piece of thicker cardboard to ensure the mirror was positioned securely in the frame and anchored it all in place using the original nails. Using spray adhesive I glued a piece of brown paper to the back of the frame to neaten up the back, and also to help keep out any dust. My last step was to add a small label identifying the mirror.

Dedication Label (last names removed for obvious reasons)

Here’s the finished product:

Margaret’s Mirror (sorry the picture isn’t better – the glass was rather reflective and hard to photograph)

Here is the cost breakdown of the project:

  • Thrift store frame: $6
  • Velvet fabric: $6 – King Textiles – $14.00/yd. and it was 20% off
  • Needles and thread: $2.01  – Fabricland – the location was closing so it was 50% off
  • Spray paint: $7.19
  • Painter’s pyramids: $6.80 (I bought mine at Lee Valley, but Amazon has them too)

For a total cost of about $30 (tax. included) I think I got a pretty good result.

Linked to: Just a Girl Blog, Decor to Adore


  1. says

    Hi Michelle…

    Ohhh…your great aunt’s mirror is frenchy fabulous! What a sweet family treasure! I think you came up with the perfect solution for displaying this beautiful piece…as well as a great way to preserve it! That frame certainly is perfect and I love the black velvet background! It turned out beautifully, my friend! Thank you for sharing it with us today!

    I’m coming over from Laura’s new linky party!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design


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