Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY Sunburst Mirror


I can't believe it's been nearly a month since my last posting. Shame on me! I've done a terrible job keeping up with everything, but I've been awfully busy job searching and living and so and so forth. But! Stay tuned for more updates (I may even update the blog again with another post this afternoon with housekeeping-y info).

So! Remember my shortlist of apartment related to-dos here? Well, I've checked another off the list!

The space above our television has been sad and barren since May; the walls in our last apartment were broken up considerably more by the big floor-to-ceiling french doors, so large wall art wasn't really necessary. Now, less doors = more wall space to fill in. So the challenge was to create or purchase something that was imposing enough to fill the space without overwhelming it....or our bank account.

I snooped around on the internet and found this:

(Image and tutorial courtesy of this post from Twenty-Six to Life.)

It was perfect. And cheap. So I thought I'd share my quick-and-dirty sunburst mirror tutorial here. I essentially followed my instinct in combination with some reassurance from the 262L tutorial - it's not much more complicated than stacking some stuff on some stuff with a crap-ton of glue in between. Like a glue sandwich. Mmm.



18 and 12" floral rings* (in the FLORAL department, not the Everywhere But department)
Craft mirror (depends on the size of the finished product - which is based on the size of the shims - I chose a 10")

*I didn't wind up using the 6" floral ring that the 262L blogger did. I didn't read her tutorial thoroughly and kind of went in headfirst, but since I used a stronger glue I don't think I sacrificed any structural strength.

Home Depot
2 bundles* cedar shims (any size will do - I believe mine were 12". They come in bundles near the building materials section of Home Depot)
Strong glue (in the interest of durability, I bought some Gorilla brand superglue since we didn't have any as well as Gorilla brand wood glue)

*You REALLY only need 2 bundles. I bought three and used 1 and a couple of shims from the other bundle. Totally went overboard with the shims and now I have a bunch of homeless shims. Sad little shims.


Step One: Assemble your materials. I put down a drop cloth to catch any glue drips and set up a box fan to help the glue dry a little faster.

In hindsight, the drop cloth was really stupid and kind of ineffective. There was a couple of small spots where the glue came through the cloth and onto my nice rug (ok, decent rug...but's it's the only rug of any value that I own!). I would recommend doing this over a scrap of cardboard or something instead. Duh.

Also, peppermint tea is a necessary DIY material. As is Joanna Newsom.

Step Two: Arrange a few shims so that they are roughly symmetrical. (My method essentially arranged the shims symmetrically and then filled in the gaps with the second "layer" of shims.)

Step Three: Keep gluing and filling in the gaps. I was generous but not sloppy when I applied the glue.

This is a great opportunity to show off your Heavy Book Collection, which may or may not expand into your Heavy Anything Collection, as it did for me. I simply kept applying shims and then weighing them down with whatever heavy-ish objects I found lying around. I'd wait a few minutes for the glue to set a bit better and then move on to the next segment in the circle.

Step Four: Enlist assistance from the cat.

The benefits are obvious.

Said cat will run around, overturning your gluey shims and then looking perturbed as he sticks to everything, get cat hair all up in yo' business, and just be a general nuisance and attention whore.

But he will refuse to pose for photos.

Step Five: Once the outer layer is glued on, simply stagger the second layer on top of the first, a few inches more towards the center. It doesn't have to be exact, as the end result will be imperfect because of the materials (the cedar shims proved to be rather irregular, with fun knots, holes, and chips). Just don't go TOO crazy, or it will look wonky.

(Also, I didn't get photos of this part. Whoops. Too busy trying to make Buster ignore me by trying to take his photo.)

When the wood glue is set for both layers of your sunburst, apply glue to the back of your mirror, flip the whole thing over, and set it on top (centered as best as possible). Let that dry until set, and then hang with a brad.

I didn't need to add any hanging hardware because of the way that I assembled the mirror; there were spaces in between the shims on the 18" floral rings that worked perfectly.

I think the mirror is pretty sweet in our place. The thing is massive - 49" across! and came in under $20 (once I return the few things that I didn't use, and if you don't count the Gorilla glue that I purchased to use for other things as well). All in all, cheap, awesome project that just about anyone can do.

I approve.


  1. Cool sunburst mirror... but I must say, even cooler cat! :oD

  2. Yeah, Buster is pretty awesome.

    My favorite part about this creature is that he gets sudden bursts of energy after pooping. We can hear him scratching about his litter box and 5-10 minutes later, like clockwork, he's running around the apartment at top speed, claws scrabbling across the wood floors.

    Animals are weird.

  3. I would appreciate the work done to place the mirror with a wonderful idea.
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  4. How pretty! Your description of your cat's antics is A) hilarious and B)reminds me of our cats...don't they make life fun? :)