Thursday 22 August 2019

Ever wondered how a mirror is made? These videos will give you the answer

Artisanal craftsman David Smith is sharing his knowledge on Instagram where his account is attracting thousands of followers.

Creating a mirror using silver nirtrate
Creating a mirror using silver nirtrate

By Nicola Irwin

These amazing videos show steps taken to create a mirror, starting out with a piece of glass.

Artisanal craftsman David Smith, a glass embosser, signwriter, gilder and designer, shared them on his Instagram page where he also shows other work created at his studio in Torquay.

To make the mirror, silver nitrate and pure ammonia are mixed together in water, creating a miniature cloud that Harry Potter would be proud of.

Then the solution is poured over the prepared glass, making sure to cover the corners.

The effect is immediate. Once the remaining solution is hosed off, the mirror is ready to be turned over and the results revealed.

Smith, 49, a married father of three, is passionate about teaching others the traditional techniques he uses to make sure the methods survive into the future and has schooled more than 700 people around the world with forthcoming classes in Australia and Boston in the US.

He posted the videos because he thought it would encourage more people to look into traditional crafts. The same chemical reaction is used in mass manufacturing, but the process is automated.

“I thought people would find it interesting,” he said, though he advises against people trying to replicate it at home unsupervised. “It’s educational and (being on Instagram) keeps the crafts alive and cottage industries going.

“At my workshops it’s mainly young people. They don’t want to sit in front of a computer and use Photoshop; they say ‘We want to get our hands dirty’.

“It’s all coming back.”

For the most part, Smith works alone in his Devon studio, the base he has used for more than three decades.

But online he has a growing number of fans – clocking up more than 98,000 followers on Instagram.

His work has attracted celebrity fans including Kings Of Leon, T-Pain and John Mayer.

Glastonbury Festival 2008 – Day Three

Mayer had all but given up hope of finding someone who could create the vintage style he was after for an album cover when he was shown work Smith had done for a tattoo studio.

Through webchats, Smith grasped what Mayer wanted to achieve and set about creating the visionary artwork, as captured in this film by Danny Cooke.

PA Media

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