Introduction: Graphic Mirror
In this tutorial I will give you step by step instructions on how to produce your own mirror with a digital graphic of your choosing.
Step 1: (Step 1) Choose a Mirror and a Digital Image
COST: $30-$100 depending on size (the print being the most expensive part)
TIME: 30minutes (assuming you have your materials ready to go)
TOOLS: Razor, clamps, application squeegee, padding for clamps
The first thing you need to do is obtain a mirror. I got this mirror at a re-use depot but you can get a mirror at any hardware store or if you want a particular size you can google "custom glass" and find someone in your area that makes custom sized mirrors. The trick is to get a mirror that has a right angle (or near right angle) edge so that you can cut your graphic image out cleanly and easily (in later steps).
Once you have your mirror you need to choose your image. For this tutorial I have chosen an image of a close up of someone playing a guitar that has been sent though an analog video synthesizer to produce abstract coloration. You can choose any image you like. Keep in mind that some images allow for more reflection than others. I have found that the darker an image is the more reflective your final result will be.. so the brighter the image the less reflective.
Once you have your digital image in mind you can send (or take in) that file to your local digital print shop. There are many online printers that will ship to you as well. PSPrint is a mega company that can do this type of print.
Have them print the image on (VERY IMPORTANT) "50/50 perforated sticky-back vinyl". The perforation is what allows the mirror to act as part of the surface image and the sticky backing is what will allow you to adhere the image to the mirror.
Also, be sure to have your image printed at least 1 inch larger then your mirror on both Dimensions.
FOR EXAMPLE My mirror is 36x30in so I had my image printed to be 37x31in
This prints can start at $30 and go up from there so you may want to talk to a print shop before you choose the mirror size.
Step 2: (Step 2) Have Your Tools Ready
For this project you will want to have..
-A razor blade
-2 clamps w/ some kind of padding so that you don't damage the print when clamping
-Application squeegee (the blue tool used for vinyl sticker) This usually gets thrown in w/ your print but be sure to ask. (If not they are about $1 from any number of vinyl distribution websites)
Step 3: (Step 3)
Start by lining up your digital print over the top of the mirror.
Be sure to check that the image is hanging over the mirror on all sides. This will insure that the image covers the entire surface of the mirror.
Clamp the image to the mirror using some time of padding between the clamp and the image to be sure that the image is not damages from the clamps. I've made my padded spacers out of tape and folded paper. This works just fine. Don't apply a ton of pressure with the clamps. Just enough to hold the image in place over the mirror
Step 4: (Step 4) Fold Half the Image Up
We are about to begin adhering the image to the mirror.
Once the image is securely clamped you can fold the print over it self in preparation for peeling and cutting.
Step 5: (Step 5) Peel Part of the Print
Start to peel the print from its backing.
When you order a sticky back-perforated-vinyl print it will come with a backing just like any other sticker.
You will need to take care when peeling the sticker from the backing so that is doesn't stick to itself.
I usually peel about 1/3 of the image
Step 6: (Step 6)
Once you have peeled part of the backing from the sticker you need to cut away the excess backing material.
Use your razor to cut it off.
AGAIN be sure not to let the sticker stick to itself. If this does happen don't worry.
The best way to unstick the sticker from itself is with a quick pulling motion.
Think.. removing a bandaid. If you go slow it will hurt (damage the image) but if you do it quick it will be fine.
Step 7: (Step 7) Application on Image
Now that you have the sticker unpeeled and a portion of the backing removed you can begin to apply the image to the mirror surface.
Hold the sticker up with one hand (be careful not to let it stick to itself!) and with the application tool begin to smoothly press the image onto the mirror. Work your way our from the center to the sides pressing a few inches of the material to the mirror at a time. Apply the same amount of pressure as you would to sticking any sticker to anything. Be sure not to apply too much pressure or you risk damaging the surface image.
Step 8: (Step 8) Applying Surface Image Continued
Work your way out until the available portion image is completely adhered to the mirror
Step 9: (Step 9) Application Continued
Now you should have a portion of the image attached to the mirror.
You can now remove the clamps (as the image is held in place by itself at this point) and peel the remaining backing material.
Step 10: (Step 10) Finish Applying Image to Mirror
At this point you can work exactly as you did in the beginning of the application process to attach the rest of the image to the mirror. When you have finished applying the entire image use your application squeegee to go over the entire image to be sure that the sticker is uniformly applied. It is also wise to apply additional pressure around the edges of the mirror because your next step is to prim the excess printed material from the edges of the mirror
Step 11: (Step 11) Begin Your Cut
When removing the excess material from the edges of the mirror it is important to note that you only have one go at this and the results are dependent on your level of care. To achieve clean edges it is good to pay close attention to what you are doing and have a nice new razor.
Start about 3 inches from a corner and hold the blade at a slight inward angle against the edge of the mirror. The mirror won't break so don't be afraid to apply a bit of pressure. The pressure will allow for a clean cut. You can cut in from the edge of the image until you hit the mirror and then run a smooth uniform cut along the edge of the mirror. Once you have cut out most of an edge return the the top and cut the remaining edge.
Step 12: (Step 12) Enjoy
Enjoy your new graphic mirror