Do not discard old mirrors!

This post from 2015 is about reusing old mirrored sliding closet doors to beautify my yard.

After four years, the glue has held the pieces in place through the extreme cold and heat that is our weather in eastern Canada. The mirrors appear to open a door into some other magical realm. Since then, I have added more colourful perennials in the beds. 

(Fortune cookie prediction).

When I read my fortune cookie, I wondered who wrote these obtuse messages.

“Should” really means you PROBABLY can do it, or the likelihood is that you will do it. It leaves an element of doubt though, doesn’t it? There could even be an “if” added to that fortune cookie prediction.

You SHOULD be able to undertake the mirrored fence project and complete it… IF the sunny, dry weather holds out for a few hours. We have been getting quick cloudbursts of showers lately so I understood the uncertainty of the fortune cookie prediction in that respect.

You SHOULD be able to complete the project… IF you don’t cut a finger, drop a hammer on a toe, trip on the sawhorse….or do anything that would warrant a trip to local Emerg ( a very real possibility in our home) where you are sure to wait long hours before seeing a physician. You get the picture?

These were my thoughts when I happened on the fortune cookie from our take-out dinner on the very night before we were to start work on our mirrored mural panels.

Our intent to beautify our back yard was going to be one big experiment. We wanted to cover sparse cedars allowing us to see into the neighbour’s yard. The thick greenery of the top doesn’t extend to the bottom of the row of cedars.

Or more to the point, HE is able to see into our yard. Have I mentioned we have a pool and our yard is very private from prying eyes?

The idea to glue mirrored pieces to a fence came from Pinterest, of course.  I searched for broken mirror projects and found so many that I am convinced there must be lots of people who had mirrors sitting around in a garage from home renovations.

This winter, hubby and I decided to put up louvered doors in our bedroom closet and remove the three large sliding panels of mirrors from the 1980s.

We tried selling them but no one wanted them. Not much of a surprise really.

Then we tried giving them away. We placed them at the road with a sign announcing they were FREE!

A scavenger came and took all the steel tracks and the frames but left us the mirrors.

So on a very bright Saturday morning, we were ready to tackle our project. We had bought the special glue that would be needed to keep these suckers attached to wood panels (pressure treated pine in case you are wondering) hopefully through the heat and humidity of our summers to the coldest wintry Canadian nights.

In case you should want to try this, here is the first thing I learned about the glue. It is very tenacious. Wear gloves. I did not.

Hubby was unconcerned. Don’t worry says he. It will come off easily. Uh huh! Really? The suggested varsol method for removal didn’t work.

The second method was to use my apricot face scrub all over my hands and that didn’t work either. The only way I finally managed to remove all the glue was to shave, yup, gently shave the glue off my fingers in the shower.

The second aspect to consider in this project is that the mirror shatters in unpredictable patterns because of a very solid plastic backing that must be removed before glueing the mirror to the wood. I had to work with whatever shapes came my way.

Hubby was on breaking duty….this comes naturally to him anyway. Around our house, he is known by the nickname Mr. BS Man (BS =break and spill). It took us an afternoon to get the mirror pieces broken and glued to one panel.

Another important piece of information….leave the panel in horizontal position for 12 hours.

Lifting it too soon will cause some of the heavier pieces to slide off and break into a zillion shards.

Let’s just say I quickly learned the reason the mirror originally had that danged difficult to remove plastic backing!

With three panels finished and installed, the most important ones to allow us our privacy, I am not sure if I should have mirror pieces all over the wood fence or just in the middle. I mean, a person could really go wild with mirror pieces all over each panel.

We have lots of mirror left and it’s probably best to wait to see how the mirror holds up over the winter before investing right away in more pine boards.

There are other possible uses for the leftover mirror.

The mirror could be cemented as mosaics in stepping-stones. I think it would be stunning if we then placed solar lights close to these stepping-stones. Can you imagine the lovely reflection of the lights in the evening?

Or, how about a piece of mirror glued on top of a tree stump or slice of tree stump? Imagine a collection of these in flower beds or in areas where the grass is scraggly.  For this experiment, we would have to invest in a glass cutter to cut the mirror to the precise shape of the top of the stump. Love the effect of a big “puddle” of water sitting on top of a stump…

Have you used mirrors in original ways? If so, leave me a message! I will share some of your brilliant ideas in the Reply box below.

artistic reuse of old mirror

In the meantime, I am very pleased with the results. Friends and family who have visited commented that the panels are an effective trompe l'oeil as they appear to give us a glimpse into the neighbour's yard. Of course, they are only reflecting objects from my own yard. I particularly like the way they reflect all the nearby flowers.

recycling mirrored panels

You can let me know what you think. Should I add more mirrors? If you have any other ideas for recycling mirrors, I would love to hear them.

8 Responses

  • Just love what you have done with mirrors on your fence and am inspired to shamelessly copy your wonderful idea. My question is how well have the mirrors held on your fence? Thank you for a great post.

    • Hi Sharee,

      They have stayed in place over all these years. Only a few little pieces on the edge have fallen here and there probably because I didn’t add enough glue. I hope you will give it a try because the results are quite spectacular! I receive so many comments when people visit. Send me photos of your creation! Cheers.

    • Thank you Christine. It certainly does attract a lot of attention whenever we have workers or new friends come into the backyard.

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