Mirror project

Coming of Age program for the UU Church of Palo Alto
Written and compiled by Dan Harper
Copyright (c) 2014 Dan Harper

The Mirror Project consists of two sessions spent making mirrors. The main question we’re answering in this project is: “Who am I?” So that’s what this mirror is to be. When you look into it, you see yourself surrounded by … ? what? So if you look into a mirror and see your face, what would you like to see around your face? What would you put on a mirror frame to show who you are?

Process: On the first week, look through the materials, come up with a concept (adults make mirrors, too). Plan to get about half done the first session. (It’s OK to look for more collage material at home.) On the second week, you should plan to complete the mirrors.

— Mirrors: use mirrors with a bare wood frame at a crafts store (Michael’s typically sells one or more types of mirrors with bare wood frames)
— acrylic paints
— Liquitex Slow-dri Blending Medium (keeps paint from drying too fast)
— Liquitex Matte Medium (used to extend and add depth to paint)
— Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish (used only if you want a shiny mirror)
— collage materials (e.g., old magazines)
— decoupage paste (e.g., Mod Podge), or use Matte Medium
— brushes of various sizes
— containers for mixing paints
— containers for water
— drop cloths

Hints on using acrylic paint:
1. Acrylic paint dries fast, so mix a little Slow-dri Blending Medium in with your paint.
2. Because acrylic paint dries fast, only squeeze out what you need, and be sure to put the caps back on the tubes of paint.
3. Mix your paint with Matte Medium about 50/50 — this gives the paint more depth, and results in a better finished product.
4. Keep rinsing out your brushes so they don’t get caked with paint.
5. Acrylic paint wil NOT come out of clothes, carpets, etc. Wear old clothes, and put drop cloths down before painting.

Hints on using collage materials:
1. Cut out the image you want to use and try out on the mirror frame before pasting it down.
2. To paste it down: Coat the back of the paper with Mod Podge OR with Matte Medium, stick down, then paint a coat of Mod Podge OR Matte Medium over the collage item.
3. Don’t panic, Mod Podge and Matte Medium go on white, but they dry clear.

Hints on finishing your mirror:
1. Remember that colors will be more vivid, and collage items will look better, once everything is completely dry.
2. Most people want their mirror to have a matte, or low-shine, surface. If you want a glossy (shiny) surface, mix the paints with Gloss Medium and Varnish — or wait until everything is dry, then coat the whole project with Gloss Medium and Varnish.

Hints on cleaning up:
1. Acrylic paint WILL come off your skin, though it may take 2-3 days before it’s completely gone. If you get Mod Podge on your skin, let it dry, then peel it off.
2. To clean brushes, first rinse them with water — when no more color comes out of the brush, finish by washing the brush with soap and water, then rinsing thoroughly.
3. Everything used to mix paint in gets washed with soap and water, then rinsed.
4. Make sure all tubes of paint have caps, and that the caps are securely screwed on!


Above: Supplies for the mirror project. Back row, L-R: 16 oz. bottle of Matte Medium; 8 oz. bottle of Slow-dri Blending Medium; 8 oz. bottle of Gloss Medium and Varnish; 8 oz. jar of Mod Podge Matte Sealer.Glue/Finish. (Notice that the labels for the different mediums look almost identical!) Front row, L-R: set of acrylic paints; mixing tray; brushes for acrylic paints; water jar and cap (cap may be used for mixing paint).


EXAMPLES OF MIRRORS made by Coming of Age participants

Mirror no. 1

Above: Mirror by Anna Luehrs, 2012.

Mirror  no. 2

Above: Mirror by Aliana Miller, 2012.

Mirror no. 3

Above: Mirror by Ethan Christianson, 2012.