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Desilvering Mirrors

Hello all: I have a question that I was hoping to get some input on.
I am working on a project involving mirrored elements. I’d like the
central mirrored piece to suggest the disorientation/distortion of
reality that you feel when you find out that your spouse is having
an affair and leaving you. Does anyone know how to “desilver” the
mirror in spots or otherwise treat it so that it gives a distorted
reflection? Thanks for your help!

Jessica Rifkin

Jessica, Desilvering the mirror can be a simple as scratching off the
silvering on the back of the mirror. You can experiment with
different ways of doing it, from gently rubbing a spot with steel
wool to make it “diffuse” to using something like a scribe to scratch
hard edges, words, etc., into the silvering.

Something else you might want to consider is the “fun house” effects
you can get from convex, curved, and concave mirror surfaces.

Have fun - sounds like an interesting project.

Karen Goeller

Hi Jessica, It’s a whole lot easier to desilver a mirror than to
silver it. Any kind of abrasion will remove the silvering all too
easily. Once when I was moving cross-country with several mirrored
pieces, the “professional” mover I hired used masking tape on the
back of the mirrors to secure them. When I removed the masking tape,
the silvering came along with the tape and left a quite interesting
pattern. Too bad I wasn’t interested in artistic effects at the


Jessica-- Sounds like an interesting project. If you want
to distort your mirror, not just desilver parts of it-- there are
acrylic mirrors out there (I have one for at art fairs–unbreakable)
and I bet that, with a bit of experimentatrion, you could heat them
to a point that allowed manipulation of the shape. My only other
idea is that if you have any clear material that is, or could be
formed to the shape you want, you could probably turn ir into a
mirror by using mylar sheet, which you could buy from a plastic
company–or cannibalize from a helium balloon–and gluing it on.
Attaching it without clouding it would be the tough part, but an art
store might have a totally clear spray-on adhesive. One more
idea–make your mirror from dilver, with a really perfect polish,
distort it, maybe protect it with glass. Flat glass with a distorted
image might really enhance the effect. Just brainstorming!

Karen – thanks for the input. Do you have any idea where to get
convex, concave or curved mirrors in a small size? Thanks for your


Jessica To add on to the brainstormed ideas from Noel. Careful
heating of an acrylic mirror should work, but if you don’t mind
lines and a bit color CDs deform quite well, while keeping all their
shine and reflection. The aluminum surface is in between two
protective sheets.

good luck