Mirror Calligraphy – Learning the do’s & don’ts the hard way

We’ve all seen the amazing instagram images of calligraphy written on mirrors, either as signs or seating plans. I decided to do my own and, perhaps arrogantly thought it would be fairly simple & take me about a morning to complete…

OH HOW WRONG I WAS.

This blog post is basically a guide to anyone wishing to attempt mirror calligraphy with a few things I learnt the hard way.

  1. Don’t underestimate the task at hand. Mirror calligraphy is HARD. it’s so much harder writing on a large mirror than a small item & correcting mistakes is a lot more difficult as you risk disturbing work you are happy with and you can’t simply start again.
  2. SOLVENT CLEANER. Depending what you use, you can risk creating smudges all over your glass & the mess will then perpetuate & you could end up having to start whole sections again. I recommend LOTS of tissue (kitchen roll or sort of blue roll if you have it). I was using Posca pens and found it easier to rub the work off after it had fully dried, to avoid said smudges.
  3. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN AGAIN. As stupid as it sounds, I think I was so concentrated on doing the actual calligraphy, I created my whole design around 7 tables… not realising I had 7 tables + the top table – making 8 all together. *Facepalm* After doing the top table & first 3 tables, I realised my terrible mistake. Luckily my now husband had the brainwave to change just the bottom of the plan, rather than redo everything I’d already done.
  4. Check your tape! I measured my mirror up using tape, starting with masking tape to make a bit of a margin on either side. In hindsight I think using a laser level for the lines would be better than taping. But I had the ‘great idea’ to use a thin, metallic present tape to separate the tables. I thought this was a genius plan as it was thin enough for me to leave on while I did the calligraphy. FAIL. Can’t explain how much of an epic fail this was. The metallic tape left a vile, horrible, almost immovable residue which had the potential to ruin my whole seating plan…
  5. Removing tape residue… Thankfully, I had my now husband to call and cry to, who works with glass and offered a solution for removing aforementioned vile residue. Solvent cleaner is the best thing for this, however if you don’t have that to hand use a scalpel or razor blade to scrape the residue off the mirror in small scratching motions. This, combined with a dettol wipe helped to remove any remaining residue. This was long, tiring & time consuming. So, honestly, just use masking tape & save yourself the stress.
  6. Photos – this is my final point as, after nearly 8 hours of slaving over my mirror I sent a shot of the finished calligraphy work, unframed on my messy studio desk to my mother. The reply of ‘bit confusing isn’t it?’ was not well received. Hopefully your mirror calligraphy experience won’t be anywhere close to being as traumatic as mine, but I’d advise to hold off taking snaps until your mirror is properly staged. It’s pretty difficult to photograph mirror at the best of times & you want your calligraphy work to shine. So frame it, stage it near/opposite a plain wall if possible to avoid reflections & consider your lighting to avoid reflections.

At the end of it all, I was really happy with the work I created. I got so many compliments on my mirror at my wedding & still do when I take it to wedding fares. It is something I am really proud of and I definitely learnt a lot from my first experience. I hope this guide helps at least one other person to have a more stress-free experience!

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