Split-baluster Mirror ca. 1840

We found this mirror frame in the attic of our Wiscasset home. It was in very poor condition, had no glass or mirror, and needed a complete overhaul. It also had a police evidence tag indicating it was once part of a burglary (although I can't imagine why anyone would have taken it).

Ordinarily, this type of object may not be worth the effort and expense of restoration, but since it has an interesting history for us, I took on the challenge.


At one point, someone must have attempted regilding. There was a lot of what appeared to be red clay coating parts of it (but they apparently did not add glue to the clay), and they applied it directly to wood, rather than gesso. My guess is that they tried to learn gilding from a book, and gave up on this project.

Due to lack of gesso in some areas, and questions about the stability of existing gesso due to layering, it was decided that all areas to be water gilt and burnished would have remaining gesso stripped, and new gesso applied.

Infills and castings were used to replace missing sections of ornament. Gilded using both water gilding and oil gilding, a warm toning and light/medium distressing.



I created a tablet with reverse painting and a stenciled border
with a design appropriate to the period.


The completed mirror is now ready to return to a wall in Wiscasset, and I don't expect that it will ever again be relegated to the attic.

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