Things I Wish I Knew: Mirror Calligraphy

Calligraphy on a mirror. One of the most elegant forms of event signage I've seen in this era. Also, the most difficult style to document through photographs, but I did my best to capture my work for you. 

 
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How I Approached My Mirror Design:

First, I sketched out my ideas on paper. This is such a major key for me. When it comes to anything I'm doing, I always sketch it out first, that way I have a solid reference for spacing and font pairings. 

Then I mapped out my design onto the mirror using washi-tape. This is a type of paper tape that's easily removable and doesn't leave a residue. In a perfect world, I would've had time to get that waxy pencil that can write on non-porous surfaces like glass and plastic and windows, but we all know this world isn't perfect. So washi-tape was a good way to go for me because I could still have guidelines and keep my lettering straight minus the trouble of removing any markings.

The rest of the work was simply copying my initial sketch onto the mirror and scaling everything up mentally. The event-design company I was working for gave me complete creative freedom over the design which was liberating, so I was able to create something effortless and elegant just as I love to do. 

LESSON 1:

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE HELP MOVING THE MIRROR IF YOU'RE BORROWING IT AND IT'S HUGE. My first experience with mirror calligraphy actually began with shock---  A 2'x5' mirror with an ornate, brass frame that I somehow had to fit in the back of my chunky, green station-wagon and lug back from Nashville to Franklin was before my eyes, covered in the oil-paint from its previous project. Thankfully, my husband was there to help me because I usually panic before I can be logical and solve the problem. We finally got the mirror home and carried it up three flights of stairs into our apartment where I now had to clean the oil-paint from the glass.

LESSON 2:

CHARGE A CLEANING FEE OR WORK THAT INTO YOUR PRICING. Google quickly became my best friend, because neither water nor windex worked to remove the paint. (Duh, of course. If the paint is oil-based, you'll need something more than water to clean it up.) So the article recommended acetone nail polish remover and an old rag, and that worked like a charm. I practically went through my whole bottle of nail polish remover but it was worth it, okay?

LESSON 3:

MAKE SURE YOUR OIL-PAINT PEN IS NOT PERMANENT. This one is a doozy, y'all. So I'm using my favorite oil-based paint pen, thinking if I make a mistake, I can just use the nail polish remover again to clean it up and fix it. NOPE. (MORE PANIC.) I started reading the writing on my pen and found the word PERMANENT. (Oh Lort. What will I do?! This isn't my mirror!!!) Well, I eventually found out that my pen actually could chip off pretty easily using a single-edged razor blade and water. So I didn't feel so bad anymore and I could make the adjustments necessary. (But gee whiz, that moment made me so nervous.) In the future, however, I'd use a Sharpie Oil Based Paint Pen.

LESSON 4:

CHARGE A RUSH-FEE. I was contacted on Monday afternoon to take on this project, and the wedding was on Friday. This was definitely something I knew I could do, but it took up my whole Thursday afternoon. In hindsight, I should've charged a rush fee since it was such a last minute project.

 


WELL, that's it, my friends! Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience doing mirror calligraphy for the first time! Maybe I'll create a YouTube tutorial one day on how to streamline this process. But in the meantime, this is all I got. Hope you give it a try! And let me know if you have any questions!

Love, Frani