Project 3 – Floral Mirror

I had been scouring local Restores and Resellers looking for a small round mirror for quite some time.  Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to finally stumble upon just the one I wanted for a particular project I had in mind.  For this project consider using any mirror or picture frame for a similar look but also think outside of this scope a little – what about updating a tired old plant pot or urn?  What about an old teapot? Perhaps a decorative plate?  Options are endless!

Old mirror or frame
Creative Paper Clay
Floral Moulds from IOD
Wood Glue
Paints (Modern Masters Metallic Bronze, Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint)
Brushes (chippy brush, wax brush)
Cotton Cloth
Wax for sealing

NB:  some of the moulds I used are older and not readily available but consider using any moulds that fit a theme… florals, butterflies, seashore, wings…

To start, make sure your mirror is clean and free of dirt and oils.  For this you simply need a little soap and water, even a wet wipe would do.  This was my mirror, washed and ready to start!

I like to apply my moulds when they are still soft and somewhat malleable – important when applying to a curved surface such as this mirror. I will therefore only make a dozen or so pieces at a time, glue them in place and then begin making more. 
Take out a small amount of the paper clay and knead it slightly to soften and smooth it out.  Press firmly into one of the mould designs, ensuring that you fully fill the cavity. Smooth the back off since this is the side you will be adhering to your piece.  (I will often use an old credit card to ensure the back of the mould is level).
To remove your design from the mould flip it over so that you are able to slowly peel the mould away from the clay.  If you find your clay sticking to your moulds at all brush a little cornstarch into the moulds first, which will make removal easy!
Brush on some wood glue (usually what I use) or even some white craft glue, ensuring that you take it right out to the edges of your designs to ensure there is no curling of the clay as it dries.

Lay your moulded pieces around the frame ensuring that you are alternating shapes, and working them fully edge to edge.  As you can see in this picture I leave a number of gaps that I go back and fill later with smaller flowers and leaves, typically laying larger flowers and leaves first, spacing similar flowers around the circumference of the mirror to create interest.

Continue to make and add more moulded pieces until your design is as full as desired. For this piece I knew that I was planning on distressing back to a base colour.  In this case I wanted a subdued metallic look for the base so I used Modern Masters Metallic paint in Bronze. Use a small chippy brush to dab the paint down into all of the crevasses in and between your moulds.  I did one full coat and then, once dry, used a smaller brush to touch up edges and areas I missed on the first pass.

Allow to dry fully.  The Modern Masters Metallics dries to a hard finish, allowing you to distress back to the metallic finish without risk of removing that layer of paint.  If you are using a different brand of paint and do not want to risk distressing back to the paper clay layer then you should consider doing a light single coat of a Polyacryllic to form a protective barrier prior to the next paint step. 
I also chose to highlight some of the raised aspects of some of the florals and leaves with some gold metallic paint I had (Americana Décor Metallics) but it proved unnecessary – it’s too subtle to see in the final product!

Once your metallic layer is dry it is time to apply two coats of the Old White layer.  Because we will be wet-distressing these layers I strongly suggest using a chalk or clay-based paint for this.  The water will reactivate the paint allowing you to remove it, where you choose, with ease. 
Take one of your cotton cloths, dip it in water and rub gently on some of the high points of your flowers and leaves, exposing the metallic paint below.  The white paint will remain in the ‘low’ spots, while you will reveal the metallic in the ‘high’ spots, creating a lovely contrast. 

Remove as much or as little as you want, revealing the details of your moulds.  If you feel that you removed too much of the white paint you can simply repaint that area, allow to dry and distress again… no worries!
Once you have settled on the final look and determined it is distressed ‘enough’, allow it to dry and then apply your wax with a wax brush (I used Annie Sloan clear) to get down into all of the crevasses.  Dry overnight and then buff lightly with a cotton cloth.

Project 2 – Adding Mouldings

Adding embellishments to pieces is a great way to dress up an otherwise plain or somewhat lacklustre piece.  Large flat spaces can be given new interest, providing you with areas that allow for more techniques to be used. 

For this little piece I created interest by layering paint colours and distressing back to reveal the hidden colours beneath but you could choose to use glazing, washes or waxes to create interest and highlighting the crevices.

Moulds (such as IOD, I used Escutcheons 2)
Paper Clay
Wood Glue
Painter’s Tape
Desired Paint
Fine Sandpaper

A simple piece

The Paper Clay is extremely malleable but does dry out quickly.  When not in use keep the rest of your clay covered to prevent it from drying out on you. Choose which mould shapes you are interested in adding to your piece, bearing in mind the size or your piece and the area you want to apply the moulds to.  You want things to be in balance. Know that you can use small moulds in a large space when you are adding a number of them – visually this will be the same as if you used a large mould and may prove more interesting, depending upon the finish you choose.

For the above piece I chose to add moulds to the front facing panel of the Demi Lune table – above each of the three legs.  I used a combination of two separate moulded shapes – a circular floral medallion and an Escutcheons 2 to frame the medallion and to make it larger.

To form the moulded shape take your paper clay and press into the desired mould, smoothing out the back to ensure that it is level and flat. I will often make use of an old credit card to scrape across the back of the filled mould to remove any excess clay. 

To unmold your clay turn the mould upside down and ‘peel’ it back and away from the clay.  If you find your clay sticking to the mould at all then lightly brush it with some cornstarch before applying the clay – it will help the clay to release easily.

I will generally apply the moulds to a piece before they have dried.  Although they shrink slightly when drying, I find it easier to shape them on the piece while still malleable. You can bend them around corners if needed and ensure they fit closely upon a surface with no gaps.

Apply wood glue (you could also use white craft glue if desired) to the back of your moulds and place them in the desired position on your piece. You could choose to lay your piece flat so the mould doesn’t slip from its desired location, or you could use your painter’s tape to hold it in the right spot!

Allow the moulds to dry overnight. Remove the tape and paint as you desire!

It’s that easy!    

Ultimately you are limited only by your imagination and, perhaps, the moulds you have available but know that any interesting shapes you have at your disposal can be used as moulds also.

The paint finish below was achieved by first painting in two coats of an olive coloured paint (I used Annie Sloan here) and a custom mixed mid-tone grey colour (a blend of Annie Sloan Chicago Grey, Graphite and a little touch of DIY Bohemian Blue) watered down to create a wash.  Using an extra-fine grade sandpaper, the grey layer was sanded back in places to reveal the olive undertone, which adds a depth to the grey that can’t be achieved with a flat grey paint alone.

Clear wax was applied and then polished to a sheen which creates an almost marble-like finished texture that I love!

Use a light hand when sanding he top layer of grey smooth – because it was applied in a wash it doesn’t take much to reveal some of the olive paint beneath.  Even where the grey paint remains the olive paint will echo through the grey, giving a richer finished colour.

(Links have been provided to help you access some of the more specialized products used – using them will not cost you anything more but I might make a few pennies!)

Project 1 – Lavender & Black Desk

working on Stripes and Checkerboards


Paint – Lavender & Black & Gold
(the Lavender colour I used was a custom blend of 2/3 Annie Sloan Pure White and 1/3 Aspire Eminence – only because this is what I had on hand. The Black was DIY Little Black Dress and the Gold was Deco Art Champagne Gold)
Painter’s Tape
Brushes – various sizes
Clear Finishing Wax
Buffing brush/cloth

Notes… I have given you details on the exact paints I used but know I went with what I had on hand.  You can certainly go with a paint of your choice.  For this I used Chalk/Clay paints which required sealing with wax but if you choose a self-sealing paint then know you are able to skip the wax step unless you choose to add it for the `feel` it brings the piece.


  • Clean & Repair – The first step is to always make any necessary repairs (in the case of this desk all of the drawers had separated at the joints which required me to apply wood glue and clamp them together for 24 hours before cleaning and beginning the project)
  • Base Coat – I mixed enough of the Lavender colour to ensure that I had at least 2 full coats of paint.  If you are concerned with bleed through then start with a coat of Shellac to block it, or you can start with a professional base coat paint.  I didn’t do either with this piece – they were unnecessary and I hate ‘extra’ steps!
  • After ensuring full and smooth coverage of my Lavender colour I allowed the piece to fully dry.  This is important before taping to ensure none of the base colour adheres to the tape!
  • Measure the areas you are looking to ‘stripe’ and divide by the width of your tape, determining how well your stripes ‘fit’ into the space.  You don’t want to end up with one over-large stripe so you need to ensure that you are able to adjust the widths accordingly. The taped areas will remain lavender, so determine which stripes are to be black and which lavender and begin taping off accordingly. There is a pic at the end of the instructions showing I striped the outter sides and the inner foot well of the desk.
  • Tip:  I will use small pieces of tape butted up against the edge of the piece, or up against the edge of the taped stripe to guide where my next piece of tape goes, ensuring a nice straight line easily.
  • Ensure that you also tape off the top and bottom areas of your stripes to ensure clean starts and stops.
  • Press all edges of the tape down firmly to help achieve crisp lines. 
  • Tip: Paint over all of the edges of the taped areas in the base colour again (or in a clear top coat).  This is the colour that will bleed through, making any bleed through ‘invisible’.
  • Once dry, apply a couple of coats of your black, working on a smooth coverage.  I allow my paint to dry almost fully so I don’t smudge wet paint, but I do not allow it to fully cure, which might cause issues when removing the tape. And… remove all of the tape.
  • For the checkerboard pattern – I measured the dimensions of the area I wanted finished in the checkerboard, determined the appropriate size of squares that would fit best in the space, and cut heavy cardstock to that width. I used this as my guide to lightly draw lines in the space in pendil. I used these guide-lines to hand paint in the black squares.
  • Don’t expect them to be perfect.  Noone else will!  That said, I did want to add an accent of a small dot of gold paint where each of the square met up.  You could free hand this as well, though I chose a small flat-headed nail, dipped it into the gold paint and pressed it into the appropriate spot.  This left me with dots that were all roughly the same size.
  • For the small stripes along the top desk edge I taped off the top of the desk to ensure a clean edge and then free-handed them, using a flat artist brush that was roughly the width I wanted each stripe to be.  The dots along the Table top (at the top of each stripe) were made with a larger flat headed nail than used on the drawer fronts.
  • The final step is always to apply your sealer.  In this case I used a clear wax, wiping off any excess before it dried and then buffing smooth once it was dry. 
  • Below is the Before and After look so you can see what I started with and where I went with the final look.


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