June 9, 2011

DIY Crate & Barrel Mercury Glass Lamp

This lamp on the left was my dream lamp- the lamp on the right is my copy.
The inspiration comes from Crate & Barrel and I heart it big time. Too bad it's 239 buckaroos for ONE!
I searched high and lower for something even close to this gorgeous without success.
Then I was listening to Nate Berkus and heard hm say something about DIY mercury glass finish (this is pre-blog days). Umm, I had no idea this was possible- but there are several tutorials online like here and here .

So obviously I decided to make my own. I figured it would cost be $100 for two lamps. I planned to buy glass kitchen canisters (using two tall ones like these), lamp kits, a fancy pants drill bit and of course the mercury glass faux finish.

 But fate struck and I found these glass lamps at the thrift store.
I do not love the shape the same way I loved the square inspiration piece- but I thought it was worth a try, especially cause it's hecka cheap and will save me 50 big ones.

I really wish I would have looked a little bit closer at the metal portions of the lamp. Soooo rusty! Who would buy these? Picture my two thumbs pointing right at me, "this guy!"

The base of the lamp didn't just unscrew- the lamp had to be completely taken apart. If you run into this, it's pretty easy to figure out-but you want to start with these screws up at the top- the ones holding the wires to the lamp.

Just unscrew those and you should be able to start stripping all the pieces off. This is what I had when both lamps were completely deconstructed.

I sanded the heck out of all the rusty pieces and bought a special rusty metal primer. Honestly it was not my favorite- but at Walmart there weren't  a whole lot of options.

For the mercury glass look- you wanna buy Looking Glass spray paint. I found it at Robert's for $19 and at Michael's for $12. Not bad with the 40% coupon.

I used a tutorial myself- but here's the basics-
(1) Cover the outside of your piece of glass and tape it off
(2) Evenly spray water on the inside
(3) Do several light coats of spray paint
4)Depending on the amount of desired "chipping" either let it dry naturally- or wipe it while it's wet and a lot of finish will come off
(I let mine dry naturally as my inspiration doesn't look very "chippy".)

Now for the goods- THE TIPS. 
✴I used the spray paint outside and could not have been in more ventilated space and I thought I was gonna pass out. It is WAY WORSE that regular spray paint. Wear a mask!
✴I did at least five coats. I didn't wait over night to do them (who's patient enough for that?) but you should wait a few minutes between coats, or you WILL get drip marks. Mercury glass should not have those!

✴My FAVORITE Part: real mercury glass has gold, tan and even black show through when it wears.
I waited a day and then used gold craft paint on a sponge brush to paint over the mirror spray paint. The paint on the brush acted as a paint thinner and I was able to distress the finish exactly how I wanted.
I used it very lightly in some places, not at all in others, and then heavily in a few spots.Then finished up with a few dispersed spots of black.
 I have to say, I LOVE this touch! It made a huge difference!

I  have a pair of these lamps now...but need to work out the matching lamp shade thing! Remember this dirty, thirfted Restoration Hardware shade? I think that cleaning experiment worked pretty well.

Hope you guys liked this one-cause I sure did! Oh yeah, grand total came in at 30 for two lamps, paint and one shade- I figure I'll be done in another 15 or twenty dollars.