Saint Paul, MN Mirrors
Alchemy Mirror Resilvering
Welcome to Alchemy Mirror Resilvering.
Hand-silvering mirrors since 1983.
Alchemy Mirror began in 1983 as a way to carry on the tradition of hand-silvered glass mirrors. The owner learned the craft from a silverer who learned in the 1970s, taught by another who had learned just after WWI. The materials and techniques are those used when mirrors were made in individual glass shops. Since it’s founding, thousands of mirrors have been brought back to life through these well-tested techniques.
What is mirror resilvering?
Mirrors like those in old dressers, hand mirrors, bathroom vanities, etc., have a thin layer of solid silver that provides the reflective surface. Silver oxidizes as it ages, but because it is well sealed, that process takes 60-80 years before the mirror really starts to show darkness, spotting, haziness, or any of the other ways that mirrors can degrade. Resilvering is simply a maintenance process, like changing the oil in your car engine, but with very long time intervals.
In order to refresh the reflective surface, all the old coatings need to be removed and the glass can then be prepared for a new coat of silver. Note that any stamps, special painting or other coatings applied to the glass do not survive this process.
When the mirror is done, it will have a new reflective coating that should last for decades.
Will my mirror be perfect?
Mirror resilvering is a process of antique restoration. It will not remove scratches or staining in the glass. In fact, with the new coating, some scratches may be more evident.
It’s important to remember that most mirrors in need of resilvering are old. They have seen use over many decades and have the chips, scratches and other wear to prove it. Whether or not you can live with these imperfections is a personal preference. Many customers choose to accept the wear as part of the joy of owning antiques.
How long does it take to resilver?
Once we have the mirror, it usually takes 7-10 days to finish it.
Can you silver other materials?
The process we use was designed to only work on glass.
Will resilvering hurt the value of my antique?
Antiques with silver-plated mirrors don’t have the kind of intrinsic value that is harmed by refinishing or resilvering. Most of the pieces we see were widely manufactured during that late 1890s up through the 1950s. These are not the kind of pieces that lose much of their value because someone cleaned them. If you have a 16th century multi-paneled French mirror, don’t resilver it.
Can you restore mercury mirrors?
We don’t do those anymore. The material is hazardous to handle and we have no recycler who will take it.
How can I tell I have a mercury mirror?
The back of a mercury mirror is a silver/gray with no backing paint on it (note: some backing paints are silver/gray). It feels like Teflon: slightly oily and a little bumpy. If you have a piece from the 1880s or earlier, it likely has a mercury mirror as silver mirrors were not widely manufactured until the 1890s. Sometimes the mercury amalgam will leach liquid mercury and you will see it at the bottom of the frame.
Will it harm carving or etching in the mirror?
No. Those are cut into the back of the glass and will be resilvered along with the rest of the mirror.
Do you sell supplies to resilver mirrors?
No, we don’t. The process to re-plate an old piece of glass is tricky and the set up is expensive. The learning curve to get it right is way beyond the number of mirrors most customers have to do.
How do I get it to you?
We are in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can bring it by, ship it, or for large built-in mirrors, we do pick up and delivery in the Twin Cities. Please call first! We like to discuss your project so we can give you a price and set up a time to for you to drop off your mirror. This is a part-time business for us, so we are not always here, but we always return calls.
What kind of mirrors can you do?
We do bathroom mirrors, door mirrors, automotive rearview mirrors, hand mirrors, concave and convex mirrors, carved mirrors, witches balls, etc. We do not do first surface mirrors like those used in telescope optics. If you have questions about your particular mirror, please call.
Contact Alchemy Mirror Resilvering today at 651-641-1125 for all of your Saint Paul, MN mirrors needs.