Today I’m sharing one of my favorite DIY project of all time, my DIY mirror frame made from pistachio shells. I made this gorgeous upcycled mirror a few years ago when we were living in Texas.
Alexis’s room was the first first room we decided to tackle when we bought our house in Dallas. We’d moved around so much up until that point that she’d never really had a full-blown decorated room. Her room redo was a massive undertaking that took us months to finish. The pistachio shell DIY mirror frame was part of that redo. Here is how I did it.
DIY Mirror Frame Materials:
Glue gun and hot glue
Framed/Wood backed mirror
Painter’s tape (optional)
Spray paint (optional)
Sand paper (optional)
Drop Cloth (Optional)
Step 1: Paint the shells. (Optional)
These flowers look plenty fab without being painted white so you can skip this step if you prefer the natural look. I think this DIY mirror frame works either way.
I wanted to mimic the look of a shell mirror I saw on Horchow so I planned to coat my flowers in white glossy paint. Let me say that like most of our DIY projects this one was definitely accomplished through trial and error.
One major major error I made? Assembling the flowers before painting the shells. This was a bad bad bad idea. When the time came to spray paint them I could not get the paint into all the crevices. Apparently that disaster in the making was pretty obvious because Joseph and Alexis had given me dual skeptical looks when I told them my plan.
The moral of this story? If you are going to paint your flowers like I did paint the individual shells first!
Because I’d pre-made my flowers, I ended up having to dip them into watered-down latex paint and letting them drain upside down on some cardboard, then flipping them right side up on some parchment paper to dry.
Then I had to repeat the whole process again because they needed two coats. It was messy and tons more extra work than spray painting the individual shells. So yeah, paint the individual shells first.
To do this, all you need to do is spread your shells out across a drop cloth. Make sure your shells are clean. Joseph thought it was overkill, but I had them all facing in the same direction when I sprayed them.
Also make sure to put them as close together as possible. Ours had too many gaps which wasted a ton of paint. I gave the shells two coats of glossy white spray paint then let them dry overnight. The next day Lexi and I flipped them all over and I sprayed the other side.
Step 2: Assemble the flowers.
These are super easy to make but time consuming. It helps if you have a few TV shows to watch over several evenings. I did it all in one marathon night while watching Joseph play video games (don’t worry, it had a really engrossing story line about love and saving all intergalactic life from a new alien threat).
Each flower starts with the same basic center bud and builds from there.
Start by picking out three shells and putting hot glue on the right side of the inside of each shell (or left side if you are a lefty).
Assemble by tucking the outside left of one shell into the inside right of the other shell. In other words, make them overlap. You can glue them to each other one at a time but I found it easier to smush all three together at once.
Next put a glob of hot glue on the bottom of your newbie bud and stick it to the parchment paper. Add more shells, one at a time until your bud is the size you want it to be. You only need to add glue to the bottom half of the shell.
Once your flower is the size you want it to be, pull it off the parchment paper and add extra glue along the bottoms to secure the shells. I made 18 each of the big and small flowers but that will vary depending on the size of your mirror. Use tweezers to clean up any stray hot glue webs. At the end of this step you should still have a big pile of painted shells. Don’t worry, you’ll use those later. If you don’t, go eat some more pistachios.
It took me about six hours (Joseph fell asleep around hour #4) to make all of the flowers. Don’t be like me. Break it up over a few days. Your back will thank you.
Step 3: Prep Your Mirror
The mirror I’m working with is a basically a beveled mirror glued to a slab of dark brown particle board. I wasn’t sure how much of the frame would show so I painted the wood just in case. All I did was scuff the finish with some sandpaper, taped off the glass with some frog tape (I seriously love this stuff), and painted on some latex primer.
I followed it up with some white gloss paint, pulled of the tape, cleaned the mirror, and was ready to glue the flowers on.
Step 4: Attach Flowers to Mirror
I confess, prior to this project, I didn’t have much respect for hot glue. I thought it was just for small temporary things. So I went to the store and bought some power grab and tried to attach the flowers with that. Power Grab might be super strong, but man does it take forever to set. On such a tiny project with lots of little shells to glue, ain’t nobody got time for all that waiting. So I decided to give hot glue a shot. It worked like a charm.
All you have to do is arrange your flowers along the perimeter of the mirror, then glue them down one by one. Don’t be skimpy with the hot glue. I used 1-2 sticks of glue per flower.
Step 5: Fill In Empty Spaces With Loose Shells
This last step is another one of those, do while watching TV kind of steps.
Break out that leftover pile of painted shells and start filling in the outer edge of the mirror, shell by shell. I attached the shells by putting glue along the lower edge (just like making the flowers) and adding a dot of glue along the bottom to stick it to the mirror’s surface. I added more shells to the bigger flowers than to the smaller ones so that the sizes stayed consistent.
Since I planned to have the mirror sitting on Alexis’s desk and leaning on the wall, I avoided placing the shells too close to the edge. It took me about 3 hours to fill in the edges. And that was while watching TV, which makes me go a lot slower.
As soon as I was done I ran upstairs, and added the new DIY mirror to Alexis's desk. It looked amazing! This inexpensive project created a unique statement piece that really made Alexis’s room special.
I love this mirror you made. I have a large round mirror that was my mothers. I am sure it is probably 70 years old. I would love to create the same design on her mirror. Any chance you would create and sell the flowers that you created for Alexia’s mirror?