It was a gross oversight that left me without a mirror in my office bath. I’d like to think that I went three months without one because I didn’t need it and I wasn’t a slave to vanity, but honestly it was because I couldn’t find one that I liked. Everything seemed too ornate or too plain or too expensive.

Finally out of desperation I bought the plainest, least expensive mirror I could find. I figured I could use it until I found one that I liked better. Then I figured maybe I could turn it into something that I liked better. Here’s my $5 mirror at right.

I bought a few bags of decorative glass “gems” at the craft store. I got two bags like those pictured at left. There are lots of options for color, size, and finish. I chose an assortment that had a few different colors as well as some shiny and some with a matte finish that looked a bit like sea glass. Of course you can also get sea glass if you’d like that for your own mirror; here’s one place you can order sea glass and other craft marbles and glass gems.

I spent a little time arranging the gems on my mirror. I went for a random look rather than a pattern, but you can arrange them any way you like. If I did it again, I might choose gems in different sizes rather than all the same size. I also think this would have looked cool with a few black gems added to the arrangement. You could make interesting mosaic patterns if you had a larger frame to work with, too.

Once I had the gems arranged, I used hot glue to stick them to the frame. Make sure you choose a glue that’s appropriate for the materials you’re using. I didn’t find many that were specifically for glass crafting– make sure yours will work with your gems.

I found it easiest to put a dab of glue on the back of the gem and then place it on the frame, rather than putting glue on the frame. This minimized the amount of cleanup and extra glue around the gems. Keep in mind that this project is great fun for anyone who doesn’t mind the occasional 400° drop of molten plastic on the fingers–definitely not one for young kids to do, at least not by themselves.

Here’s the finished mirror. I like the sea glass feel and the aqua colors. I wanted a stained glass mirror, and this is certainly a less expensive alternative (the whole project cost less than $20 and took about an hour and a half to complete).

I think mirrors like this would make really fun gifts, too. It’s an interesting way to use broken pottery or china; save the pieces, break them into smaller bits that show off the pretty patterns, and create a mosaic. Or make a small decorative mirror with shells you’ve collected from the beach. What a great reminder of your vacations!

What kinds of things would you add to a mirror like this? Please share your thoughts!