Marthable Elves: Mercury Glass Craft (the Spoils of Which I Have Cheerfully Reaped)


Not only did my friends Anne and Amanda graciously agree to jot down some notes and snap some photos of the night they spent making mercury glass objects via Martha’s instructions (January 2010 issue of Living), they also GAVE ME A BUNCH OF THE GLASS! What absolute peaches!

Two shady people about to get rich selling mercury glass to naive antiquers. Just kidding, it's Anne and Amanda!

Without further ado, an evening with spray paint, cheap glass objects, a helpful dog, and two Marthable elves (hey, they called themselves that, I’m just helping it catch on).

Stuff you’ll need:

  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Mirror spray paint
  • Newspaper
  • Painters tape
  • An assortment of inexpensive glass objects
  • A large dog
  • I dunno, maybe some rags

Steps (quotes are from Anne’s notes):

1. Prepare your objects

Washing the glass.  EASY!

Wash the glass! It is "EASY!"

2. Protect outsides of objects

Wrapping all of the vessels. PAIN!  You don’t need to do it.  Just use painter’s tape or masking tape and do the edge.

Wrapped glass! "PAIN!"

3. Applying coats of mirror paint, spraying with water between coats to get that mottled look

Spraying water and paint.  USE RESTRAINT AND WAIT!  You don’t need that much water (spray sparingly) and when you paint, hold the vessel away from you to provide some distance between the vessel and the paint can.  Otherwise, you use too much paint and it pools at the bottom.  One coat will NOT give you the look that you want.  You need to apply MULTIPLE coats.  I’m not even sure what coat I’m on.  Maybe 7th?  You’ll want to wait at least 10 minutes before each coat so it dries.  If you don’t wait, you just waste paint because it makes everything else run.

After a few coats

Some more helpful tips from the mercury-glasserizers:

  • Spraying outside is better than indoors – OBVS.
  • Do not spray towards your helper.
  • If you are really concerned about VOCs – stay away from this project.  Your mucous membranes could be destroyed by then end of this.
  • Make sure you have enough room and you aren’t a total klutz – lots of glass around!  (Amanda broke one glass frame, I stepped on one today and somehow one bud vase fell off our hobo drying rack, i.e. a rack from the dryer perched on top of a wobbly box)
  • You’ll probably want 3 cans of the paint (they are skinny bottles), gloves (unless you want silver robot hands), screwdriver for opening the can of paint, drop cloth

And now, some final inspirational pictures so you too can get moving and make me some mercury glass!

Boogy selects frame, wishes he could communicate that Amanda is hogging the paint bottle

Things you will need

Mercury mirrors!

Totally antiqued, guys!



  1. keith eery · March 4, 2010

    Hey!…I was there too yah know?…Supplying background entertainment (a showing of the critically acclaimed film – Hellboy 2 The Golden Army [2008] (a classic)!!!

    • Susan · March 4, 2010

      I’m just SO sorry. Guys, Joel did everyone a huge favor and watched a movie.

  2. emily · March 4, 2010

    those look amazing!! do the elves work on commission?

    • Susan · March 4, 2010

      No!! That’s the amazing thing!! They PAY ME in CRAFTS!

  3. Joey Joes · March 5, 2010

    I was just going to say that this is the dish that sparkles!

  4. Lesley · March 8, 2010

    Does anyone else want to drink an ice cold Fribble out of one of the smaller “vessels” in the last pic?

    Is anyone else even old enough to remember what a Fribble is?

    Nice work, A & A!

  5. Anne · March 14, 2010

    Marthable Elves at your service!

    WARNING : This project may cause you to turn everything in your house into mercury glass.

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that!

  6. marthaandme · March 23, 2010

    This turned out so well!

  7. Elgin · October 4, 2010


    Where do you find this product of “Silver” Krylon Spray Paint? Please advise I am wanting this product for my Grand Daughter’s School Craft Fair. Please advise ASAP. Many Thanks, Elgin

  8. Susan · October 9, 2010

    Hi Elgin – Sorry for the delay. Had to track down the elves! They got the paint at Michael’s!

  9. Jeanna · October 25, 2010

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing. I saw this in the same issue of MSL but it helps to see that someone real did it and it turned out!

  10. Mary Anne Miller · May 13, 2011

    I am hoping to paint some vases for my daughters wedding, autumn colours,have you tried anything in a bronze metallic paint? I wonder if it would work–I just happened to google mercury glass and found you–I love this site.

    Thanks so much–this looks like lots of fun :)

    • Susan · May 13, 2011

      Hi Mary Anne – It seems like any sort of metallic paint would have a similar effect. I think attempting to do a solid coat would probably not end up looking the way you want it. But for the antiqued, mottled effect, try it out on a couple of cheap glass items with the spray water technique, and you’ll only be out a few bucks if you don’t like it! Thanks for reading!

      • Susie · December 3, 2011

        I used a gold spray as one of the layers after the first coat of silver. I totally warms up the end product, making it look much more like mercury. And i only needed to use three coats this way. They turned out beautiful! Thank you!

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