Brave New Home

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Getting Scalloped and I’m Not Talking Potatoes Here

20 Comments

Thank You: A special thank you to Julie of Julie Loves Home for nominating Brave New Home for its fourth Liebster Blog Award.  Many thanks!

It goes without saying that between all the DIY blogs out there (and Pinterest!), it’s easy to get inspiration overload.  So I closed my Pinterest tab (okay, that doesn’t ever really happen) and took a work-backwards approach.  What did I really want?  I wanted this!

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I’ve been smitten with Niermann Weeks “Cape Linden” scalloped mirror since it graced the pages of Domino magazine (RIP, dear mag) years and years ago.

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Ballard Designs makes a similar product but I prefer the more organic (and more expensive, did I just say that in reference to Ballard Designs?!) Niermann Weeks version.  Just look at how gorgeous it is!

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It’s actually a very versatile piece that can work for a variety of different styles.  The scallops reminds me of working with clay and also sea shells so it’s good vibes all around.half moon turquoise table gold mirror top of the stairsI haven’t shared this space with you guys yet (it’s the space at the top of our staircase) cause I was hoping to get a better handle on styling it first.  In any case, I thought this mirror would be the perfect candidate for some scallops.  It was an inexpensive mirror (knowing me, definitely less than $20) and I wasn’t too enamored by it in the first place (it red more metallic and less gold in the store).wire and clayI bought some aluminum wire for $3.50 at Home Depot and some gray air-dry clay (it was cheaper than white and I planned on spray painting it anyways) for $6 at Michael’s using a 40% off coupon.sanding gold mirrorI took the mirror down and gave it a good sanding.  That’s about the time I realized I was dealing with plastic.  That was my first clue that this project was going to have some challenges.  Plastic and clay are not the best of friends.  Since plastic is a non-absorbent surface, clay has the tendency to shrink away from it as it dries.  I’ve worked with clay enough to know (and fear) this but pressed on anyways.using staples to secure wireI lifted the staples on the back of the frame slightly to create a wire structure for my scallops (mmm, I’m getting hungry) to adhere to for extra support.wire support around frameI was already liking where this was going.coating wires with clayThen came the fun part!  If you haven’t worked with clay before, always always take out a handful and kneed it before you try shaping it.  It removes the air bubbles and makes it so much more malleable.  And it’s therapeutic.  I always pretend I’m making tortillas somewhere in there.  I spread a thin layer of clay over the frame.  I also put some clay behind the wire to embed it within the scallop for maximum support.half done scalloped mirrorBy the end of one movie’s time, I was half way finished.  I was already aching to get some white spray paint on that bad boy but with clay, there’s a lot of wait-and-see.cracked clay mirrorI awoke to find some cracking and peeling in areas that I had applied a thicker layer of clay to the frame.  To be expected.  The cracking was isolated and I wasn’t terribly concerned.peeled crack clay mirrorIt was time for damage control.  I removed some of the flaked off pieces with the intention of applying a thinner coat of clay and touching up some areas.cracked clay mirror beyond repairAs the day progressed, so did the cracking and separation.widespread cracks in clayBy the evening, I knew the mirror was beyond repair and it was time to scrap the project.  If I had more space, maybe I would have given it some more TLC but I wanted my dining room table back!  Having a picnic on the floor loses its appeal after a meal or two.mirror with clayAfter removing the scallops, I sorta liked the look of the mirror—it reminds me on an aged Italian fresco painting.  I hung it up and as I expected the white just works better with the turquoise.  And I like the aged and imperfect look of the mirror better than the gold.

This project reminded me how much I love working with clay.  It was so enjoyable I have no regrets at all.  And there will be a follow-up post to this with a completed scalloped mirror!  I haven’t done it yet but I plan on giving it another go with a different strategy.

I’m thinking of starting with a wood frame next time.  Any other tips?  How would you go about re-creating this look for less?  How do you like the look of the “finished” frame?

Author: Jennifer @ Brave New Home

Hi! I'm Jennifer from Brave New Home (www.bravenewhome.com). I blog about overcoming fear and transforming a house into a home one DIY project at a time.

20 thoughts on “Getting Scalloped and I’m Not Talking Potatoes Here

  1. Pingback: Some More Sea-Inspired Wall Art | Brave New Home

  2. I like the new patina too. Happy accidents are the best!

  3. Awe..like so many others I was reading along and was so blown away by your ambition and had my fingers crossed for a beautiful finished product. Too bad!! :( I know you can do it as in my opinion you had that scalloping detail DOWN. In the meantime, I think the newer version of the mirror totally works!

  4. Wow, Jennifer. First of all, I’m so impressed with your eagerness to take on such an ambitious project…and the fact that you’re not going to be discouraged by your first method not working, but that you’re committed to find a way to make it work! You’re my d.i.y. hero! (And like you, I’m drawn to the aged look of the mirror on your wall…and the flashes of metal. Not a bad temporary replacement!)

  5. hey Jennifer, this looks like lots of fun, for sure! you took a very sound approach, very similar to what i’d personally do as well. you just need a couple of fine-tuned “tweaks” to your method, and you should be golden. first, to enhance cohesion among the mirror frame, aluminum wiring, and your sculpting compound, use sandpaper (or sponge sandpaper – 150 grit would be fine) to roughen up the frame itself. also, instead of simply using a “single loop” sequence in your wires, add a helical-twisting wire pattern onto the existing wire frame network you’ve built. (you can use finer gauge wire from Michael’s flower section or from Home Depot, either should be fine.) in other words, twist finer wire onto each loop – this helps not only reinforce the structural rigidity of the loops but provides more surface area for the clay to grab onto, which again, will give you better adhesion/cohesion and hence, minimize cracking.

    next, and probably more importantly, chuck the marblex clay you used last weekend and instead, use Aves Studio’s Fixit Sculpt (FS). it is, by far, superior to most other air-dry clays on the market. it’s got a clay-like consistency, adheres to most surfaces (plastic included), is durable (e.g., many taxidermists use it for their various and “weighty” projects), has minimal shrinkage, has a good working time, is UV & heat resistant, waterproof, holds fine sculpted details very well…the list goes on. once fully cured, you can sand, drill, machine, paint onto it with very good results. yes, it may not necessarily be as cheap as the marblex, but i wager it’s definitely a lot more cost-effective than buying the Niermann Weeks or Ballard Designs mirror. (nothing wrong with buying the real thing – Sara – just sayin.’) what’s great about FS is that you can stick the unused container portion into the freezer, and it’ll keep indefinitely. besides, FS is multi-purpose: you can use it for a myriad of other projects around the house – from minor patchwork all the way to fixing small leaks in your bath tub (yes, i’ve done this myself!). and as you said, Jennifer, you do enjoy using clay, so you and Fixit Sculpt should get along swimmingly well. in fact, i happen to have some if you wanna give it a go. just lemme know, and regardless, happy sculpting your clamshell mirror once again this weekend!

    • Woooah, thanks, Richard! I asked the right guy for clay advice. Jeez, that stuff it really expensive! I think I’d need about $50 of it to complete my project. You are right though, it’s still less expensive than buying the real thing. Since I have half a block of clay left (and love playing around with it) I think I’ll try it once more with the clay I originally used then look into the stuff you recommended a bit more. Thank you thank you thank you!

  6. I love those scalloped mirrors! I have seen them everywhere lately. I really like how the ripples make the mirror stand out from the wall. I think your idea rocks-I never would have attempted this sort of DIY-I can’t wait to see the finished mirror!

  7. I have to say I’m SO impressed with your creativity on this one. I don’t think I’d have the patience (let alone the skill) to even attempt a project like that! Even though it didn’t turn out the way you wanted, kudos to you. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out in the end. :)

    T

  8. Awww….I was SOOOO pulling for that scalloped mirror! It’s one of my all time faves too…that and those gold, peacock mirrors! I can’t wait to see how you tackle it…mostly so I can repeat it and learn from your growing pains! Haha! And I’m totally with you…even though it’s imperfect, I REALLY like the mirror better now than when it was just gold painted. It’s so pretty!

  9. I agree with Kristin! It totally works ;-) I’m sorry the scalloped edges didn’t work out but I think it looks really cool anyway. The white is much better than the gold and it does have that aged Italian look now. I’ll be anxious to see your second attempt, though. Your process was spot on – it was just that darned plastic that messed-up things. Otherwise, I’m sure it would have worked.

  10. I’ve also been obsessed with this mirror for a looooong time! I never took the plunge to buy it, though, because when Ballard’s sunburst mirror came out I had to buy that one instead! I’ll be interested to see how you get those scalloped edges to work for you! Good luck!!

    The “finished” frame looks neat as well, even though it wasn’t the look you were going for. what about trying something lighter like paper mache? Then you could paint the whole thing to hide where the paper meets the frame? Perhaps using some spackle or caulk to seal it? Not sure if any of this would work.

    • You, too?! I love your sunburst mirror—I’m glad you got it. Given your home’s theme, I think a sea shell inspired mirror would definitely have a happy place in your home. Hopefully my next attempt will provide some instructions that work in case you want to DIY your own.

      I thought about paper mache but I don’t have much experience in it whereas I feel really comfortable sculpting clay. I think I’m going to give clay one more chance and if that doesn’t work try some paper mache. Thanks for the suggestions!

  11. I know it’s not what you intended, but I think it totally works. ;) xo Kristin

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