Before & After: Recycled Lamp Mirror

These glass lanterns have been popping up a lot lately. I’ve seen them mostly repurposed as terrariums, which I love, but I don’t see many people taking them apart and tinkering with the individual pieces. Sarah Dorsey decided to disassemble her lantern and use the glass panes to create this beautiful faceted mirror; it’s easier than it looks, and the elegant result costs far less than similar mirrors found in stores. This is inspiring me to experiment with some old lamps that have interesting glass shapes; this method could be applied to making all sorts of interesting designs. Thanks for sharing, Sarah! — Kate

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Read the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 7 hours (not including drying time)

Cost: $48 (chandelier with glass surround, $10; round mirror, $14; 1/2 sheet of plywood, $6; paint, $4; trim, $7; grout, $5; glue, $2)

Basic Steps:

1. Disassemble the glass surround of the chandelier and clean the panes of glass.

2. Lay the glass panes in a circle on 3/8” plywood and determine spacing. My glass panes were 7.25” long and 5.75” at the widest point; spacing was about 1/4” between the panes. So the finished mirror included 15 glass panes and was 28.75” in diameter.

3. Mark all outside edges and corners of the glass panes with a pencil on the plywood.

4. Cut the outer edge of the plywood with a jigsaw and sand to remove any rough edges.

5. Paint glass panes with an airbrush (spray paint would work great, too!) and set aside to dry.

6. Since the inner mirror was round and the panes of glass met at an angle, I chose to have them overlap. To make the glass panes level, cut a 1/8” board (same thickness as the mirror) with a chop saw slightly smaller than the glass panes. Glue the 1/8” pieces to the back of the panes with an adhesive for glass and wood and allow to dry fully overnight.

7. Adhere the 1/8” mirror to the plywood backing, using the existing pencil marks to center it. Allow the adhesive to dry until the mirror is set.

8. Arrange the glass panels with 1/8” backing on the plywood, using the existing pencil marks. Adhere the panels to the plywood.

9. Once the glue is dry, apply framing around the inner and outer edge of the mirror. I used rectangular jewelry wire for the inner edge and cut melamine edging to size for the outer edge. Adhere wire to the glass panes with a small amount of super glue, and adhere the melamine edging to the side of the plywood with strong all-purpose glue. Use tape to hold the framing in place until dry.

10. Apply unsanded grout using the same method used for the tile.

11. Once the excess grout is wiped away, place tape around the grout lines and the mirror and apply Rub n’ Buff to the grout and frame.

12. Remove the tape and any excess grout or glue.

13. Finally, install heavy gauge wire on the back of the plywood for hanging.


Wow, color me impressed. It’s nice to see a before and after that totally re-imagines the original item. I’m not sure I would take this project on myself, but I love how inspired the idea is AND that the end result is really high quality. I would have never guessed where it came from


In a sea of DIYs that just throw a coat of paint on a wood dresser, this is really a standout. The mirror is beautiful and took some real thought.


Sarah is a very talented person. I don’t think this looks “easy” it looks clever, precise, imaginative and beautiful. Good job Sarah.

There are so many of these light fixtures out there (Rebuilding Center, The ReStore, thrifts) as they are starting to come out of the 1980’s houses that are being remodeled. I always wonder what can be done with them because they are big and have presence, but they are kind of weird looking. Now I know.


final result is impressive!

too bad we can’t really see that the center is a mirror since its reflection shows the same color as the wall it has been placed on.

Monna Morton Design

Love this idea. I have fixture like that I am going to replace. What a great way to repurpose it. My deceased dad installed it, this is a great way to keep it around!


I saw one of those 80’s chandeliers at a local thrift store and could have gotten it for $20–but couldn’t think of what to do with it. I am kicking myself now! This is great!! The next one is coming home with me!


This is so good! I wish I had the vision to deconstruct things this way. My heart aches for every ugly granny lamp that has been tossed away by friends. If only we all knew!


Incredible! I always look at this style of mirror in-store and online but never fancy the price tags. This is so brilliant!


if it took an experienced artist 7 hours to create, how long would it take an ordinary person?

: )


Wow! Never would have thought of that. You really have a talent for this. Keep it up, id like to see what other creative ways you repurpose old items.


Lovely mirror. Could you please tell me what paint sprayer you used? (the slim metal one pictured). Thank you very much.


This creative person deserves four stars for creativity and patience. I’m lacking in the latter, so I went to Ballard!

Stacy @ Fritz & Fräulein

My business is redesigning vintage pieces and I am truly impressed! Absolutely love this. Think of all the fun colors you could do painting those. I’m in a Kelly green phase so would LOVE to do one in that. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring!

Connie C.

Stunning! I see these lanterns at the thrift shop all the time, and for just a few bucks. Maybe I’ll get the courage to scoop one up and try this awesome transformation, too! Thanks for sharing.


This project could be done with Krylons Looking Glass paint. It would be much easier for those of us who do not have a airbrush… – The stuff is gorgeous especially when applied to the back of glass. check out the pic.,r:0,s:0,i:73&tx=51&ty=78


I just scored one of those lamps for FREE mine came with 12 pains of glass and I see that yours uses 15 did you use two lamps? the 12 doesn’t make a complete circle! Trying to figure out what my next move is. Any ideas?


So impressive…..creative, gorgeous, well-done and even user-friendly tutorial. I’ve seen the terrariums but they never inspired me….this does!


Great job on finding a use for the lamp. But to spend 7 hrs on the making of the lamp alone not to mention the time to find the supplies, to get the supplies, which in total is more like 15 hours, requires a lot of dedication. Not to mention the total cost of $48 – not including gas cost – to make a huge outsized mirror that still looks like from the 80s – that few has the space for on the wall is a good craft project on paper.


Beautiful!!!!! I love it! I may attempt one in my favorite colors. Such a clever idea and true crafters don’t care about time consuming diys especially when it turns out so unique!

Jenn Petersen

I have that exact lighting fixture, and I am in awe of your fantastic idea. I’m going to do it!


Very nice but how did you take apart the lamp?.. How in the world do you do that part? I can’t do it,,,