Mirror Mirror on the Wall

she sells seashells by the seashore

Unhung window mirror engraved with ‘She sells seashells by the seashore’
by Jo Johnston
Approx. 940cm x 940cm wt: 13 kg

For many years now I have waxed lyrical about loving functional art where you make an art piece from every day items such as old windows. I originally had the idea for this post as a means of showcasing my window mirrors.

As I began to do some research about mirrors however I realized they can have a significant figurative, metaphorical and psychological impact on us. I found myself delving into deep but very interesting territory. Historically pools of water were our first mirrors followed by polished obsidian then brass. The 19th century brought us the silvered mirrors we know today in which they used tin, mercury or silver. Mirrors are now backed with aluminum. History lesson complete.

Moving onto the psychological stuff. I asked myself the question:

Do I like looking at a mirror or in a mirror?

On reflection I know I love looking at mirrors and the way they can add a dimension of beauty to a room as well as making rooms look bigger. I also like the way you can check whether you have overdosed with your make-up before going out or have parsley in your teeth. I do however detest those 4-way mirrors in fitting rooms where your bottom looks even more enormous than usual and your cellulite is illuminated in fluorescent glory.

I am happy to share that I have learned to smile into the mirror every morning. This certainly is not the case for many people. This snippet of poetry is one of many similar offerings I found about mirrors:

Tearful Eyes

The mirror laughed; it gleaned my thoughts
And saw me cry my want:
Synthetic views – pathetic clues
To how I tick – and now you taunt,
You bleeding mirror, jibe another!
Just because I dream…

Mark R Slaughter

I certainly felt his pain. Did you?

I think Louise Hay the author of ‘You can heal your life’ was a catalyst in helping me smile and eyeball myself in the mirror every day. She says that mirrors reflect back our feelings about ourselves and show us the areas we need to change to live a happy life. Louise Hay is the affirmation queen and I have sung her praises before in the post ‘Defying demons with word power’.

Try one of her exercises. Every time you walk past a mirror, look in the mirror and say an affirmation eg I love you. Notice how you feel and what old beliefs you may be holding on to. Ask yourself what steps you need to take to be able to ‘own’ that statement rather than resisting it. Powerful stuff and although seemingly innocuous is not for the faint-hearted. Are you in? What did you learn about yourself? What is a baby step forward you can take today (if you need to)?

Back to my mirrors. Before I knew about the wonderful book ‘Steal like an artist’ I inadvertently stole like an artist. It happened about 15 years ago when I saw an old window frame made into a mirror coat rack. I started making different any window I could find into wall mirrors and coat racks. At the time I sold them at a wonderful shop in Brisbane called ‘Handmade Things’.

I still love mirror windows and several years ago, made some for an office I bought which had no internal windows.

mirror window

Silky Oak window mirror by Jo Johnston
Approx. 1.4m x 1.4m wt: 13 kg

More recently I finally finished some old windows which I have had in storage forever.

mirror window

Window mirror in frame by Jo Johnston
Approx 940cm x 940cm wt: 13 kg

The thing is, it is one thing to think you can steal like an artist and another to take the trouble to do it.

“Oh anyone could do that!” I hear people say…and I have said it.

 My mirrors were certainly a work of love. There is a great deal of sourcing to do in terms of finding the frames and then gathering the products to complete them.

I have found window frames in second-hand or salvage places. At other times I have been given them (a big thank you to Aimee’s parents). If you feel inclined to make some of your own here are my steps to make your own mirror window:

  1. Source your window frame
  2. Break and remove any glass you do not wish to keep – Use safety glasses and cover the glass with something when you hit it so shards do not fly everywhere
  3. Roughly sand the frame to leave some of the old paint if you wish to keep the aged, distressed look
  4. Measure the gaps from where the glass was removed and either get a glazier to make and insert your mirrors or insert them yourself with silicone for glass
  5. Make a frame around the window to make it a ‘piece’ – I get a builder mate to do this for me
  6. Decide on your colour scheme and paint a dark base colour and let it dry
  7. Coat another layer of a lighter shade – cream and white work well – let this coat dry
  8. Have fun sanding back the layers leaving different areas showing the base wood, your first colour and your outer colour
  9. I often use treasure gold to decorate inside the window frames
  10. Varnish your finished work
  11. Attach a backing to hang your mirror (it is quite heavy) – I got my builder mate to make a pine wood bevelled piece which was screwed to the back; another bevelled piece of wood is attached to the wall and the 2 pieces of backing are then married together. I have also used a metal fitting from the hardware shop but these can be a bit harder to source
  12. Clean your mirrors
  13. Add embellishments such as tassels or tied objects (I found the tassels at Eumundi markets in Queensland)
  14. Add inspirational sayings, photos or other memorabilia to your finished piece
  15. Smile at yourself in the mirror!

If you do not wish to steal this idea and make your own mirror window, you can buy one of mine. It will take far less time and you can have instant enjoyment looking ‘at’ or ‘in’ your mirror.

I will leave you with something to ponder:

“The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.” William Makepeace Thackeray

If you are new to the Dream, Dare & Do journey you can subscribe to my regular updates. You may also like to download your free inspirational screensaver of the art of being images or browse the galleries featuring my art works.

I would love your comments about any aspect of this post and hope you share it with your like-minded friends.

Be the best version of yourself!



About Jo

www.theartofbeing.com.au. I realized at 50 that life was too short. I decided it was time to Dream, Dare & Do my way into a life I truly loved full of creativity, freedom, joy & connection. My 'new' life continues to evolve as does my art but life at the beach with my wonderful husband and much loved Schnauzer Mojo is pretty great. I now cram my days with creating art, blogging, learning, exercising, smelling the roses & acting as part-time cyber assistant for my hubby. Come on the journey with me to Be the Best Version of Yourself.
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8 Responses to Mirror Mirror on the Wall

  1. Robyn N says:

    Hi Jo, lovely read & now I recall the window in that office. Great poem too. Keep creating interesting blogs! Rob of the Nolans wo leaves Sunday week to immerse in art & scenery in Europe.

    • Jo says:

      Hi Robyn and thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog. It makes it worth the many hours spent :) Best wishes for a wonderful trip. I know I certainly have the calendar out now counting down the days until we go away. Can’t wait to swap stories on your return. The henna on my feet is finally leaving……xxx

  2. Mary-Ann Hill says:

    I love windows and windows with mirrors even better, and yours the best! Windows give me light and connect me to the outside world while keeping me safe inside. I choose how much of the world to let in by how far I open that window or cover it with blinds and curtains. Mirrors also give me light and connect me with me…, but I am like you, sometimes I do like to look at a mirror for what it gives out. My creative idea, on the old “one day…” list, is to take my favourite photos, maybe theme them, some family, some lovely scenes of Provence or of Noosa, create “wallpaper” with them, a collage, somehow turn that into a medium that could cover a frame and frame a mirror. Then when I look into the mirror I am also reminded of my favourite things as they are framing whatever is the image I am seeking in the mirror. I love this piece and I love that you shared the “how to” do it list. Ciao! MA

    • Jo says:

      Dear Mary-Ann I felt I was looking into some of the windows of your soul just now and your life and thoughts became a lovely mirror to enjoy some of your ‘one day’ ideas for the future. I like your collage idea a lot! Thank you for sharing. It is very special x

  3. Aimee says:

    Mirror Mirror on the wall who’s the prettiest of them all!!
    We all have long held thoughts about windows and mirrors- maybe stemming back to fairy tales and things we were told when we were young.. I have a house full of mirrors and cant escape seeing me everywhere I go. I have become used to the reflection and pay little to no attention it. I do however stand int front of the micro in my bathroom and do all the stuff that most of us do every day.. gaze and look for imperfections.. and apply stuff over the top of it to make it go un-noticed.
    I have some amazing mirrors in my house. they are mirrors that my dad and mum gave me some time ago. They are very similar to the photos you have Jo and I love to gaze at the craftmanship of them.. the paint stripped back and the old handles and the knobs and I have written some quotes on them that I love to look at.. I also put photos on the mirrors to make them look all arty and shabby.. I have a mirror that is framed in old used match sticks.. it is form the 50′s and so deco it is wonderful!!

    So when I look at mirrors I see me but I also see a whole lot more. I see the amazingness of the history of the mirrors.. I see art and I see love and sweat and tears.

    Thanks Jo for reminding me again about what I see in my life as Beautiful!!

    Enjoy your looking/ seeing and being!!

  4. Peter Nolan says:

    Hi Jo

    As a newcomer to your blogworld, I am moved to respond to your entertaining piece on mirrors and their various uses. And of course the title brought vivid recall of childhood stories of the vain Queen who constantly sought reassurance that she was the most beautiful of all. I liked most of all the somewhat ambiguous response of the Aussie mirror:

    ‘With looks like yours, old ferret face,
    No other bugger’s in the race.’

    I ran across other versions as well, in particular when I served in the Army, but I will not offend the sensibilities of your readers by repeating them here.

    I have never regarded mirrors as a friendly species. I put that down to my early readings of the fate of Narcissus, Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mirror Crack’d’ and, not least, a passage I never understood about the eyes being the mirror of the soul. That was a bit scary. However, inspired by your blog, I put aside my prejudice and tried to touch base with the aloof pane of glass in my bathroom.

    ‘G’day, Mirror,’ I began uncertainly. ‘Tell me, who’s the oldest fool of all?’

    The response was quick and unambiguous. ‘I am in the business of reflecting, not hurting feelings. But I can tell you that you run a bloody close second.’

    You will soon receive a large parcel, Jo. Do with it what you will.



    • Jo says:

      Oh thank you! Firstly for the fabulous parcel. We love it. Secondly for your comments which made me chuckle. Perhaps you need to touch base with a different mirror? I have been a bit lax with my blog in recent weeks so your input was a welcome call to action as were your prolific travel updates from overseas. x Jo

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