Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: E.Lee Jahncke Mead is back...and better than ever!

I am thrilled to present the second half of E.Lee's how-to post on papier macheing your very own mirrors.  If you missed the fun introduction to this project in E.Lee's original post, here you go.   Again, I must thank E.Lee for lending her creativity, artistry and sense of humor to the Gimlet community.  She's kind of a big deal. 

Now, without further ado, take it away, E. Lee!

Hello fellow Gimleters I have missed you! It is your long lost friend E. Lee. 

The Southern Living Idea house in Terrabella is finally complete and currently in the hands of stylists and editors from the magazine, phew! I hope you will stop by when it opens to the public on June 12, 2010 even though it is a jaunt from the Southshore of New Orleans

Grace Kaynor and Vesta Fort did a fantastic job with the design that (in my opinion) boasts a different approach to a typical Southern Living Idea Homes of the past. The local art flanking the walls alone is not to be missed! Make an afternoon of it and get lost in Historic Downtown Covington, a much slower pace than the Southshore. When you get hungry, stop into the Toad Hollow Cafe for some organic vittles.

Ok, so back to my task.  Making a pair of papier mache mirrors for Bebe...and showing you how to make your very own!

Before (found condition from Original Jefferson Flea)

After. Ta Da!

Here's how to get "The Look":

Let's go back in time and take it old school. Remember those masks you made when you were studying African art in first grade? This is what I am talking about, exactly the same process.

Frightening, yes. My mother still owns these.

1. Take newspaper and tear it into little pieces. Tear about one inch pieces, but this does not have to be exact. I know this sounds crazy, but the paper will blend in better in the layering process if it is torn as opposed to cut with scissors.

2. Make your paste. Gimleters, there are many recipes available to you online. This is what I did the first time I attempted this, and I could not recreate it the second time. I recommend that you buy the box of Elmer's art glue for $3.95 (behind the counter) from The National Art and Hobby Shop on Magazine Street or your local craft shop. It makes a gallon so you could split it with another Gimleter!

3. Prepare your work area and lie your mirror down on some paint cans or milk crates, really anything that will elevate it and keep it relatively stable so you can work on it.

4. Begin dipping your newspaper pieces into the glue one at a time. In doing so, you will need to scrape the excess glue from each piece of paper before you apply it to the mirror. Apply to the mirror and smooth out any air bubbles. Repeat until the entire mirror is covered.

A few tips. I find that it is good to separate a few pieces of newspaper into a pile with a straight edge, use these pieces where the edge of the wooden frame meets the glass and where the frame meets the back of the mirror. Also, when you are working around curves, you may not be able to get the paper completely smooth, don't obsess, a few wrinkles are good. Just like your face, if there aren't any, it gets to be a little unnatural looking after a while!

5. Leave to dry over night and repeat Step 4.

6. Prime. As in any project, your final product is only as good as what is underneath! No getting around it. Seems like a pain but you need to use a shellac based, brush on primer such as this or this. If you don't want to deal with the clean up, buy a "chip" brush (watch out for bristles it may leave behind) or a foam brush and toss it afterwards.

7. Choose your color. My suggestion is a semi-gloss, alkyd base, I love the sheen it has! The sky is the limit Gimleters, get your juices going.   Benjamin Moore makes a lovely acrylic (waterborne) paint called Aura in semi gloss. Something else to think about is a chalky, white plastery finish (Benjamin Moore latex flat in "cloud white") if you are craving a little John Dickinson in your life!

8. Leave to dry over night and repeat Step 7.

9. Clean up the edges of your mirror (where the glass meets the frame) with a razor blade. Clean up the glass with glass cleaner.

10. Hang and enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this little How-To segment.  I can't wait to see the pair of these in Bebe'sdouble parlor! This a fresh approach to a mirror, although there is nothing like an antique water gilded one.  ..but hey, they are hard to find, not within everyone's reach and may not be your style at all!

Keep in mind that anything can be Papier Mached. My sister, Carter Jahncke Perrilliat of Moca Graphics just purchased a home and was frustrated at the lack of affordable more modern lighting available in pairs.
I found her some pretty regular looking chandys from The Bridge House which she papier mached.

Editor's Note: Don't you love Carter's paintings in the background of this shot? 

Herman (fellow lover of good design and Gimlet follower) enjoying one of his new chandys!

Wowza.  Thanks so much, E.Lee.  Gimleters, if you are not up to the challenge, you can always contact E. Lee directly via her facebook page for your very own custom mirror.  (Isn't she adorbs in her overalls?)  If you embark on your own papier mache extravaganza, however, please please send in some snaps!  E.Lee and I are dying to see what you come up with. 




  1. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with! Please send and post pictures!

  2. LOVE the mirrors and the chandies!
    And LOVE the "African" masks too, of course... ;)

  3. really enjoying my daily dose of 'gimlet' ... between you & the "visual vamp" ... always good to go with the rush of design adrenaline !!!

  4. Wow! This mirror is amazing! I absolutely love it.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing!! Love the mirror!!