Mercury glass magic
No need to feel nostalgic for the home décor looks of bygone eras – vintage inspiration is trendy right now. To sneak some antique inspiration into any setting, try mercury glass.
This silvery glass has a shiny, distinctive look all its own. “It has become popular right now because of the nostalgic look,” says Phil Lancaster, senior director of merchandising at Atlanta-based home furnishings retailer Ballard Designs.
The silvered glass has been snapped up by customers over the last few years. “It’s reflective in a way that it’s not garish. It doesn’t have this super-bright, shiny feel about it. Instead, it just looks festive,” Lancaster says.
The trend works well year-round, but it’s especially popular in the fall, says Jennifer Hassell, owner of Orange and Pear, an Internet boutique based in Connecticut. And the silver’s subtle gleam complements any style already in your home, be it eclectic, contemporary or traditional.
Decorative mercury glass has been manufactured since the mid-19th century, when silvering was poured in double-walled glass items.
“Mercury is probably a misnomer,” Lancaster says. “Mercury is not involved at all. It’s glass that has been silvered.” These days, the lustrous finish comes from silver nitrate.
Mercury glass is particularly well suited for light fixtures and candle holders, since the poured silver coating leaves openings where the light can peek through. Hassell says, “When you put a little votive candle in, the light comes through the little specks.”
You can find votives, hurricanes and candlesticks in mercury glass. The finish is also very popular with holiday ornaments. In particular, mantles and tablescapes benefit from a dash of the trend.
“Just take votives and line them down the center of the table,” Hassell says. “I like when they’re all different shapes and not uniform. That is just such a pretty look with low light and vintage style.”
© CTW Features