Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I have recently had a bit of interest in my painty, inky, splattery, messy, collagy mirrors and someone asked me if I'd do a tutorial. So as I was creating this mirror I thought I may as well take step by step pictures.

When I first started painting these and also my recent canvases I had to learn everything by trial and error, which is fine but hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and achieve similar results. It's definitely a fun project.

Step 1

I used a Malma mirror from Ikea, cheap and cheerful and a big wooden frame to decorate. But you could use a canvas. Whatever surface, simply paint on a layer of gesso and leave to dry, preferably overnight.

Step 2

Prime mirror using a base colour, I used buff titanium. This colour works well as a base for all my creations I find. When that is dry paint on some yellowy/browny acrylic paint, only a small amount and wipe it off using a baby wipe. I go back and forth from left to right, that achieves a streaky kinda look.

Step 3

Using a brown paint I go in again wiping it back and forth with a baby wipe. Leave to dry and repeat with a darker brown and black. This builds up nice streaky looking layers of paint. Leave to dry.

Step 4

Using old bottle caps I stamp a bunch of circles in black and white.

Step 5

Using a paint dabber I dab on some dots, little clusters of them. I used a gold dabber here. I find with some dabbers it dabs on little bubbles, which I like cause it adds to the texture. If you want a smoother look you could use a dot stamp or a stencil would work too. Try thinking outside the box, use everyday items (like the bottle caps) or anything that falls into your hand to try and stamp with it. Anything that creates patterns and adds to the texture is good.

Step 6

In this step I mix some white paint with a bit of water and splatter it over the surface. Different techniques create different looking splatters so just give it a go and have a play.

Repeat with black paint. Let dry.

Step 7

I added more splatters this time using the old toothbrush technique. Mix paint with water again and get your toothbrush in there, then "spray" across surface. This creates more of a fine splatter. Leave to dry.

Step 8

Using stencils I then sprayed on some ink spray. I personally love using the Dylusions sprays but colourwash would work or glimmer mists if you want a bit of a glimmery shimmer. Leave to dry.

Step 9

Spray on some more ink and tip the mirror to make it run. I used 2 different brown inks here, but depending on how colourful you made your piece you can use all sorts of colours. Or try using a perfect pearls spray, it won't show much but just add a bit of glimmer. Leave this to dry again.

Very important: Once it has dried give the whole thing a spray over with a matt artists varnish. I use one from the art shop, it just says varnish for acrylics and that. As we have been working with water soluble paints and inks we need to protect our background before we get glueing so varnish it and leave to dry for at least an hour or two.

Step 10

Now get all your pictures and words ready. Sometimes I know before I start what picture or stamped image and quote I am going to use, other times I just start painting a background and then see what picture may suit the mood and colours. With this one I painted first and then picked my picture. Here I am using a photo of my grandad which I turned sepia in photoshop and then printed it on a high setting. Print this on good quality card, give it a light spray with the varnish too as otherwise the ink may bleed later. Leave to dry then cut out.

The words I made with a labelmaker and I really like just having one or two words big and standing out so I used grungeboard letters and painted them black.

Step 11

To glue the image and words I use a matt medium. Brush it on the surface and the back of the things to stick and place them, you still have a bit of time to move them around. When you're happy with the placing brush over the top with more matt medium.

I've found that the printed pictures can bleed a little ink even though we varnished it earlier. But don't worry about it, it's suppoed to look grungy and a bit rough. It just adds to the feel.

In this case I stuck on my photo overhanging the edges and cut around the mirror with a scalpel later. That gives a nice neat edge.

I also added a not planned red heart here. Once all your things are on the background you'll see if it needs anything else, a few more chipboard shapes or an embellishment of some sort.

Step 12

When everything has dried I go in with some black and white paint again stamping some bottle cap rings and using a credit card to make a few lines and "scrapes". It helps blending the photo , heart and words in with the background. I also splattered some more paint on. If you get splatters on a part of the photo where you don't want them you can easily wipe it back with a babywipe as the picture is covered in matt medium and therefore easily wipeable.

Once all that is dry I use some charcoal to go around the edges of some of the words and the photo. You can make a chunky black outline or if you want a softer finish just work it in using a paper stump.

Now your mirror is ready to varnish, add some hooks and hang.

I hope you enjoyed this little step by step instruction.

If you want more inspiration and see some of my other inky and painty creations check out my website at http://www.anikraft.co.uk/ or my flickr gallery http://www.flickr.com/photos/anikraft/sets/.

I would love to see your creations following this tutorial and feel free to leave a link here or email me at anikraft@hotmail.co.uk.


  1. What a great tutorial. I'm not very confident with ink & paint yet but this definitely inspires me and I love the use of old family photos. xx

  2. love love it!!
    thanks for sharing this wonderful tuto!

  3. Thank you for the great tutorial

  4. Wow what a great project and thanks for the step by step instructions.