Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ersta Mirra (Oyster Mirror)

I dedicate this post to all of the seafood that will be consumed with gusto during this Lenten season. 

I knew I had to have this mirror the first time I spotted it a couple of years ago.  To me, it is the perfect combination of casual Southern elegance and funk. I love that it doesn't translate as "oyster shells" in the cheesy beach theme sense, especially from a distance.  There is such beauty in its imperfect texture...and I could go on. 

These mirrors (or something very similar) are hanging in Luke Restaurant.  Every time I am in there, I convince myself that I need to just "do it" and point and click.  Practicality, however, always gets in the way, and I just could never bring myself to buy the sucker. 

I think I also fell in love with the idea of decoupaging sticking oyster shells to something when I saw this photo in Cottage Living (RIP) oh-so-long-ago.  An entire fireplace covered in oyster shells...ahh, I still remember the article like it was yesterday.   

Needless to say, this Fall, when the perfect spot in our home opened up for the mirror, I decided it was time to make a decision.  Because I could not bring myself to buy it outright, I decided to make it.  DEFINITELY not something I had ever done before, but I figured all I needed were the shells, a mirror and something to adhere the shells to the mirror, right?  Well, right-ish. 

Shockingly, the hardest part was obtaining said oyster shells.  I would not have pictured locating oyster shells in New Orleans to be difficult.  After tons of phone calls and an insanely early wake up time for my poor mom, we obtained two 50 pound bags of shucked oyster shells from P and J Oyster Company on Toulouse. 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Apparently, P and J does not sell bags of shucked oyster shells to the general public.  The poor guy on the phone did not know this.  He was super nice and, when my mom arrived, felt bad that we had trekked down there based upon the wrong information.  So, moral of the story...I suggest going to Cooter Brown's or maybe Acme or Felix's for your oysters if you live in New Orleans.  (Any suggestions for sources are welcome, by the way!)

The two huge bags yielded only the amount of oysters seen in the below mirror.  A majority of them were the wrong size, too barnacled (not sure if that is a term), broken, or just plain ugly.  The main problem was finding small, similarly sized oyster shells. 

After leaving the selected oyster shells (which reeked and were very wet and filthy!) in an ice chest cooler filled with bleach for two weeks, they were finally ready to be cleaned and then dishwashed on the boiling hot setting.  The "selection and preparation" of the oysters was the most time consuming and frustrating part of the certainly did not involve creativity, just a strong stomach and patience. 

Unfortunately, I didn't take videos or photos of the process.  I affixed the (finally) clean and shiny shells to my old Ikea mirror with this: 

I think using clear kitchen and bath caulk was a good option...I didn't burn my hands hot gluing and the incredibly heavy oysters are STUCK on there without lots of gooey buildup.  After carefully arranging them for about two hours and affixing them with the clear silicone, this guy was the result of my labors.


   iPhone pic of oyster mirror.

    up close shot.

I think it came out pretty good, despite the insanely tedious oyster cleaning and selection process.  I know that it is not the mirror from Currey and Company, but for the price --$10.00 for two bags of oyster shells, $6.00 for the silicone--, I am thrilled with it.   My favorite part was the challenge and the actual crafting, of course. 

Although I can't quite provide you with a step by step tutorial of how to make this mirror, I can tell you that you should not be afraid to try making one of your own using the above supplies...I think mussel shells would be a fantastic material as well.  In faaaccct, a quick lil google search turned up this guy.  (From none other than Martha.)  You could certainly use this concept to create a mussel shell mirror.

I will happily answer any questions you have about the mirror creation, but must warn was a trial and error project! 



P.S. Welcome Lent.  I am actually craving this time of restraint and sacrifice with "more is more" personality requires some much-needed control.  I think this control will start by not eating Zapps and King Cake for my daily breakfast...



  1. We love it! How fantastic on the front door of a beach cabin! Great idea.
    Dana, Darla, Greg
    the Redneck Junkers

  2. I LOVE this mirror. I may have to do this myself! Now, for a decorating "conundrum"...I need help! I am not sure how to post a picture to this comment...I will email it to you and, if you wish, you can use it...because I know you will have the perfect solution. What to do with the storage door under the stairs? It is an eyesore but I don't want to paint it the same color as the walls....HELP GIMLET EYE!

  3. Not only is the oyster mirror beautiful and unusual as far as shell accessories go, the making of it was a labor of love, perseverance, strong intestinal fortitude, and patience. It's fabulous, and I know from first hand in the process. Mom