With his background in the restoration of antique furniture and architectural features, Dominic had already mastered various vintage paint and lacquer effects, as well as developing his own finishes. He was inspired to find a way to recreate the appearance of an aged Mercury-backed mirror after a dealer asked him to source a replacement for a broken plate in a large pier glass.
Now, fifteen years on, Dominic has truly mastered the technique of antiqued mirror glass and can produce over twenty distinct finishes – and when these are combined with the different types of glass, colour tint and gilding techniques on offer, many more striking looks can be achieved. As a result, his services are now not just sought by dealers looking for repairs to antique mirrors but also by interior designers looking for eye-catching glass and mirror effects in their residential and commercial building projects.
The process of manufacturing an antique effect or vintage-looking mirror
The process of creating an antiqued glass mirror panel or tile is very much an artistic one; a variety of secret techniques will be used to build up the right level of ‘foxing’ (aging) and achieve the exact look sought. For example, ‘Mercury Sparkle’ is a slightly distressed effect and catches the light only slightly to sparkle as the name suggests, whereas ‘Heavy Mercury’ recreates the look of vintage mirror glass that is hundreds of years old, has degraded significantly, and reflects very little light. The ‘Fossil’ range features larger distressed and aged areas, and these can then also be tinted with colours such as Bronze, Gold or Silver. In addition, the glass itself can be tinted, with current colour choices including beautiful blues, greens and browns.
The right amount of foxing applied, the back of the mirror will then be neutralised to stop further aging, and it will then be sealed and finished with safety foil. Dominic remains very involved in the manufacturing process; he can design and make frames if needed, and will also install finished mirrors himself.
Mirror glass as art
The beauty of the finishes available to him has inspired Dominic further. Working both on his own and in collaboration with others, he has mixed antiqued mirror with (so far) architectural prints, fine art photography and floral patterns to create striking decorative art installations. A print is given a new lease of life and additional depth when combined with mirrored glass, and each panel or set of panels is unique because every finish and effect is applied by hand.
This means ‘gilded glass’ and, as the name suggests, is the technique of applying gold or other metal leaf to the reverse side of glass. This produces a reflective surface on the glass panel, and the overlapping metal leaves and the drying process give rise to beautiful variations in this mirrored surface. A wide range of striking verre eglomisé mirror finishes can be achieved when it is combined with either tinted glass or Dominic’s bespoke finishes – or both.
Uses for antique-style mirror glass
Antiqued glass supplied by Dominic and his team can be used to great effect in both contemporary styled and vintage-looking interiors. Distressed and antiqued mirror glass panels and tiles, both large and small, have been installed in homes, hotels, bars and restaurants all over the world. Typical uses include wall panels, table tops, door panels, chimney breasts, clock faces, kitchen splashbacks and shower interiors. It is through working on such a wide range of projects that Dominic is continuously inspired to explore different ways of working with mirrored glass.
Dominic Schuster Ltd offer a complete service from site surveying to delivery and installation, as well as advice on design. Every project and every client receives Dominic’s individual attention and every mirror is created as part of a bespoke tailored process.
Dominic Schuster Ltd are members of LAPADA and continue to repair and restore antique furniture and carry out architectural restoration. The company specialises in painted furniture, lacquer, gilding and japanning.