When the Pottery Barn catalog came in the mail, I fell in love with this Easter jeweled tree with mercury glass ornaments, but not the $79 price tag. I’d seen some tutorials online for how to make faux mercury glass, and I felt certain that I could create an inexpensive version of this tree for my Easter decor.
My original plan was to find clear glass Easter egg ornaments and spray them with Krylon Looking Glass spray paint, a key ingredient in DIY mercury glass. But, I couldn’t find clear egg-shaped ornaments anywhere — not plastic or glass. I tried Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, A.C. Moore, JoAnn’s Fabrics — you name it. (Ben Franklin Crafts apparently carried these a few years ago, but it must have been a one-time only item. They’re not for sale online, and a few stores I called didn’t have them either.)
But I was not to be deterred. I was determined to make mercury glass Easter eggs. So, I kept my eyes open for something that might work.
And one day in Michael’s I lucked upon a few candidates — some floral picks with pastel pearlized eggs and some translucent plastic egg ornaments in gold, blue and purple. I grabbed a couple of each, along with some other supplies, and went home to experiment.
Here’s what I made:
Here’s are some closeups of my faux mercury glass eggs:
I’m quite pleased with how this project turned out, and it was really, really easy. But a little messy on the fingers (and my hardwood floors, as I later discovered), but thankfully both messes were easy to clean up!
I’ll apologize in advance for you incomplete tutorial photos. I was home alone when I was working on this project, and it’s hard to take good photos while holding a sponge or paintbrush in one hand and an Easter egg in the other. (Sorry!) Plus, I was just so darned excited to see the finished project.
As I mentioned, I started with pearlized Easter egg floral picks and translucent colored glass egg ornaments.
My “secret ingredient on this project” was liquid silver leafing from Martha Stewart Crafts.
I started out by lightly sponging the silver leaf each egg. The key is lightly. You want some color to show through, especially on this first step, so use a light hand. Make sure to paint on the outside of the translucent eggs. Unlike Looking Glass spray paint, this stuff isn’t pretty from the backside. It’s an ugly baby puke color!
Use a gentle touch because the leafing dries quickly and covers heavily. Once it’s on the egg, you can’t remove it.
I did the same thing for both the plastic eggs and the pearlized ones and set them to dry for a few minutes. (They don’t have to be completely dry for the next dry; it’s OK if they’re still tacky.)
I’m afraid I didn’t take photos of the rest of the process — mainly because my hands were so covered with paint! But I’ll walk you through the steps.
It’s really all about layering.
I added more silver leafing, filling some of the spots that I’d left bare the first time around. I also very lightly sponged on black acrylic paint in spots to replicate those chipped-away spots you find on real mercury glass. (It’s helpful to have a piece of mercury glass to use as a guide.)
I let the black paint dry and layered back over it in spots with more silver leafing, to tone down the effect. At times, I mixed a drop of black paint and the liquid silver leafing on a palette and sponged that on. (You may also want to try pouncing on the paint/leaf with a paintbrush. You’ll get a different effect.)
On the purple egg, shown below, I even sponged on some antique silver glitter paint (also from the Martha Stewart line) to see what the effect would be.) But I didn’t do this on every egg. I preferred the reflectiveness and luster of the silver leafing.
I was trying to copy the look of the Pottery Barn tree, so I didn’t paint over the entire egg. I wanted some of the color to show through in the light. It does quite nicely, I think.
Finally, I applied silver leafing onto the floral picks and the metal ornament hangers. I toned the silver down with a little black paint to create an antique look. I finished off the eggs by tying little bows and making hangers out of pretty spring ribbon. (I cut down the floral picks with wire snips and bent the wires into loops to form a hanger.)
Silver leafing is about $6 for a tiny vial. You may be tempted to buy plain silver paint for this project. But I tried it, and I much preferred the silver leafing. It gives the eggs the metallic and mirrored effect of mercury glass. The regular silver paint ended up looking a little flat, in my opinion. And you really don’t use much for this project. A little goes a long way.
To complete my Easter tree, I went to my backyard and snipped a branch from some brush. (Don’t want to make the Lorax made by cutting on a “good” tree.)
I put the branch in a pretty crystal bottle filled with pink, green and clear marbles. (I thought about silver leafing the branch, too, but decided to skip that step to save time and expensive silver leafing!)
I added a few vintage painted Easter eggs I also found at Michaels, and my tree was complete.
I just love this springtime vignette.
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