Fixing a 100 year old New England mirror that was made in Connecticut

First let me say... if you are an expert at repairing antiques, look away, this might make you cringe.  The repair below was done knowing it was NOT going to be repaired by an expert and would most likely end up in a dumpster.  Also, these photos were taken before great cell phones. 

Here is another first DIY project for me. I love taking projects on that are crafty.   I saw this beautiful broken mirror in the basement of my husband's parents home years ago, I love looking in basements, attics, and storage areas for treasures such as this.  When I was told the once expensive antique mirror was re-appraised and lost all of its value and the repair would most likely cost the retail amount of this old New England mirror, I asked to take a chance at repairing it enough so that it could be hung again. My father in-law thought it was past the point of saving, but he let me take it and all of the little broken off pieces he saved.   After I warned them that the eagle head might come back looking more like a grotesque Halloween mask (I was half joking), we scooped up the mirror, the pieces and placed it in my car. 


One of the hardest parts of this DIY project was figuring out and deciding which way I should place the two wires that held the eagles head on and in place. Luckily I found planting of photos on Pinterest and Google to help me out since these wires were bent and a out of skew from the fall and I wanted to make sure the new head would sit just right. I needed to make sure it did not have a tilted head like a dog hearing a high-pitched whistle or looking down too much. 

100 year old mirror

You can somewhat see in the container below the small pieces I was working with. Many did not even get used since I made my own pieces out of wood repair putty.  I gave back the small pieces in a small plastic bag. Can you imagine a mechanic doing that after he/she worked on your car? 

fixing a 100 year old eagle mirror

 A front portion of the eagle's head was still in one piece.  Thank goodness I did not have to have to carve a beak, mouth, and eyes.  For this who process, I used a wood repair product that I could mold, sculpt and sand. I am still searching for the photos I took showing the exact brand of wood putty and paints I used. I have used products like this before when repairing wood around the home, so I knew what I wanted. On smaller frame projects I have used spackle, but this project needed a product that would adhere to the old wood and also act like a glue for some of the smaller pieces. 

100 year old mirror 3
Creating new pieces to be shaped and sanded before I paint them.

Creating new pieces to be shaped and sanded before I paint them.

Before I repainted the mirror, I decided to have the mirror glass replaced at Peabody Glass in case another fragile piece broke off and I would have time to fix it and paint it all at one time.  Once I got the mirror back home with the new glass, I proceeded to paint it.  Since it was almost a 100 year old piece the color variations were a challenge to match in just spots, so I lightly went over the new unpainted decorative pieces with 3 different colors and then used a dry brush technique for the "mahogany gold" color I created to match the old gold finish.

I should mention that I took the mirror during the summer with the intent of giving it as a Christmas present.  After having it that long, It was assumed I was unable to fix it and gave up.  I love being sneaky and it was a very exciting gift to give since it is a special family heirloom.

Here is the finished item.  The mirror has since been moved to a new home and I plan to get a better photo since this photo was sent to me by my in-laws and I want to get some close-ups.

Eagle mirror
eagle mirror repair