DIY modern starburst mirror

I love starbursts, sunbursts and atomic art decor and recently became obsessed with getting a starburst mirror for my living room. When I saw how expensive they were to buy, I decided to see if I could make one. And this is the result: a fantastic work of art that only cost $13 to make!

There are many pictures and tutorials on the web, so I picked out my favorite style, one that uses simple supplies like craft mirrors and wooden dowels. There was also a great YouTube video to go along with it (featured near the end). I added my own unique touches and tips, different from the video, which I’ll point out as I go along.

Supplies used to make this starburst mirror

mirrors and dowels for starburst mirror

Mirrors and dowels for starburst mirror

I found all the mirrors at Michaels for a total of $11, and the dowels and skewers at Walmart for $1 apiece.

The finished mirror measures about 26″ across, with the center mirror being only 5″. It’s scaled down from the one demonstrated in the video.

Supply list

  • 5″ round mirror
  • 4 packages of 25 pc assorted round craft mirrors (measuring 1″, 3/4″ and 1/2″). You need a minimum of 80 mirrors as follows:
    16 large (1″)
    32 medium (3/4″)
    32 small (1/2″)
  • 16 dowels, 12″ long and 3/8″ in diameter
  • 16 bamboo skewers, 9″ long
  • 22 gauge wire
  • wire cutter or craft scissors
  • needlenose pliers
  • compass
  • cardboard and paper
  • hot glue and tacky glue
  • paintbrush and your choice of paint

Use a compass to make a circle on cardboard

draw circle on cardboard for starburst mirror

Draw circle on cardboard for starburst mirror

If you don’t have a compass you can make one using a string tied around a thumbtack. Just be sure to make the circle slightly smaller than your mirror.

Mine was 5″ across so the circle I made was 4¾” across.

Cut out the circle

cut out circle for starburst mirror

Cut out circle for starburst mirror with X-acto knife

I used an X-acto knife but scissors will work just as well.

Cut a circle out of paper, a step I added which is not in the video

Fold the circle into 16 equal sections

make a paper circle divided into 16 sections for starburst mirror

Make a paper circle divided into 16 sections for starburst mirror

Here’s an easy and accurate way to divide the circle into sections.

Make a paper circle smaller than the cardboard circle you just made. Fold it in half, then open it up and fold it half going the other way. Repeat until you have 16 folded sections on the paper. This will be used to mark the placement of the dowels on the cardboard.

Use the paper circle to mark sections on the cardboard circle

mark cardboard backing for starburst mirror

Mark cardboard backing for starburst mirror

Pin the paper to the cardboard at the center point, then transfer the markings to the cardboard.

You could use a protractor but this is easier.

Connect the dots

draw placement lines on cardboard

Draw placement lines on cardboard

Draw lines on the cardboard from one side to the other, being sure to intersect the center point.

The marked cardboard circle

cardboard circle marked and ready for gluing

Cardboard circle marked and ready for gluing

After all the lines are drawn, make a 1″ circle in the middle. The dowels will start at this point.

Glue dowels to cardboard

glue dowels to cardboard for starburst mirror

Glue dowels to cardboard for starburst mirror

Attach dowels on top of the drawn lines with hot glue.

Add skewers in between the dowels

glue skewers in between dowels for starburst mirror

Glue skewers in between dowels for starburst mirror

Make a wire hanger

make wire hanger from 22 gauge wire

Make wire hanger from 22 gauge wire

Cut two 4″ pieces of 22 gauge wire and twist them together using needlenose pliers.

Insert wire into cardboard

insert wire into cardboard

Insert wire into cardboard

Make two small holes inside the center circle and push the ends of the wire through.

Glue wire hanger in place, a step I added which is not in the video

glue wire hanger in place

Glue wire hanger in place

On the other side of the cardboard, twist the ends of the wire together, press them flat against the cardboard and fill in the circle with hot glue. This will keep the hanger from pulling through the cardboard over time.

Add more glue to the wire hanger

add glue to wire hanger

Add glue to wire hanger

Put a couple of dots of hot glue over the holes. Notice that the hanger is bent slightly away from the cardboard to make it easier to hang.

Choose a paint color

paint for starburst mirror

Paint for starburst mirror

Use any color you want to paint the dowels. Gold and silver metallic paints are popular choices because they make the finished product look more like metal. Of course you can select any color you think will fit in with your decor.

I chose black because I wanted it to stand out against the aqua walls. Black is also a color I’ve used to accessorize with throughout the house.

The paint I selected is Folk Art enamel in Licorice. I used this because it’s shiny and doesn’t need a sealer on top. One coat of this paint was enough.

Paint the cardboard and dowels

paint the starburst mirror

Paint the starburst mirror

Elevate the piece to make it easier to paint. I put mine on top of a paint can. After one side is dry, flip it over and paint the other side. Make sure to paint the edge of the cardboard.

When the whole thing is dry, it’s time for the really fun part, gluing on the mirrors!

Diagram of mirror placement on dowels and skewers

guide to making starburst mirror

Guide to making starburst mirror

The dowels get three mirrors (a large, medium and small), spaced out at 3″ and 3½”. The skewers only get two (medium and small), 3″ apart.

Use hot glue to attach mirrors

glue mirrors to dowels using a ruler for spacing

Glue mirrors to dowels using a ruler for spacing

Hot glue a large mirror to the end of each dowel, holding each one in place for a few seconds. The trick here is to make sure it ends up being fairly level.

Then glue a medium one to the end of each skewer. Glue the rest of the mirrors spacing them out with a ruler for accuracy.

I placed my ruler underneath the piece rather than marking the wood directly.

Secure the back with more glue, a step I added which is not in the video

add more glue to back of mirrors

Add more glue to back of mirrors

This is a step I added because one of the small mirrors popped off of a skewer as I was handling the piece. The skewers in particular are so narrow they don’t hold a lot of glue.

When all the assorted mirrors are glued on, flip the piece over and put more hot glue on each one. This makes the glue base larger, more secure and less likely for things to come off. It looks a bit messy but no one will be able to see it once it’s hanging on the wall.

Glue the center mirror with tacky glue, a step I added which is not in the video

Glue the center mirror with tacky glue

Glue the center mirror with tacky glue

This also was an addition not in the video I used as a precaution against the center mirror coming off.

Put a whole bunch of tacky glue in the center, then place the 5″ mirror on top.

With tacky glue you have the advantage of being able to reposition that you don’t have when using hot glue. Nothing would be worse than a focal point being off center. At least, that would drive me crazy! Tacky glue will also hold it forever.

Hot glue is great for instant gratification but it doesn’t always hold up depending on the type of surface being glued and extreme fluctuations in temperature.

Leave the piece to dry on a flat surface for about 24 hours.

Fill in the spaces with more hot glue

put hot glue in between dowels on starburst mirror

Put hot glue in between dowels on starburst mirror

Put a bead of hot glue in between each dowel and skewer. It should also connect with the center mirror. Getting in there can be a little tricky.

Hot glue tip!

When you’re all done with the hot glue, use your blow dryer to melt any stray glue strings (and there will be many). Glue strings are not attractive and will make your beautiful work of art look cheap, and that’s no good.

The finished starburst mirror

finished starburst mirror

Finished starburst mirror

This is the result you’ll get by following the referenced video. It looks pretty but I wanted to take it a step further.

Adding embellishments to customize the look

extra mirrors added to starburst mirror

Extra mirrors added to starburst mirror

I had some mirrors left over so I decided to add on a few extra ones. Can you spot them? This makes the pattern look more random and funky which I think is visually more pleasing.

I love how the etched mirror design can be interpreted as heat swirls, and the extra little mirrors appear to be pieces of the star flying out from the center.

A grand statement for a small cost

funky diy starburst mirror

Funky DIY starburst mirror

One of the first things people see when they walk through my front door. Well, this and my hot pink sofa, but that’s a story for another day.

The inspiration video for the making of this starburst mirror. Less than five minutes long.

I loved the style of this mirror although I decided to make a smaller version. The one demonstrated here uses an 8″ central mirror, dowels that measure 16″ long and skewers that are 12″ long. That makes the finished mirror about 34″ across which is quite spectacular but needs a large space for hanging.

This is the mirror featured in the above video

starburst mirror amazonIf you’re going to make a mirror just like the one in the video, you’ll need this 8″ mirror. I really love the scalloped edge. It adds more sparkle and interest.

I bought all my mirrors at Michaels, but for some reason they didn’t have this particular one. I ended up using a smaller one anyway. Here it is for your convenience.

Turn an ugly mirror into a work of art

The thrift store is a good resource for cheap, interesting, and sometimes ugly, supplies to use for your DIY arts and crafts projects. I look for old frames, mirrors, whiteboards, candlesticks and wood plaques.

One day I went looking for a mirror and found this little gem. It was hideous and falling apart. It was also only $1.50. I snatched it up.

Learn how I transformed this ugly mirror into a unique work of art.

Find something to inspire your mirror makeover

Inspiration will give you direction

handpainted archway by Lynda Makara

Handpainted archway by Lynda Makara

When you’re doing a project like this, it’s helpful to have a vision in mind to guide you throughout the design process. You could be inspired by your surroundings, or by something in nature, or by a particular style like vintage or modern.

My inspiration for the mirror’s new design came from the archway in my house which I designed and hand painted. I decided to use that crown pattern for my new mirror. Then I just had to figure out how to make it work.

Prepare the frame for transformation

When I brought the ugly mirror home, I had hoped to be able to keep most of the frame intact. I thought maybe I could cut off the points of those pencils. After studying it for a while, I decided the pencils and that little shelf thing on the bottom had to go.

I removed the mirror and set it aside. It was just held in place by clips.

Those pencils were hard to remove as they were glued and nailed on. The nails came out easily but that glue was incredibly strong. I used some nail polish remover to help dissolve the glue and a utility knife to cut through where the pieces were joined.

Finally I wedged a screwdriver in there and used a hammer to pry those things off. They were stubborn! It also left some damage to the surface which I fixed as described in the next section.

Later on I learned a trick that would have gotten those pencils off easier. Soften the glue with nail polish remover and then use dental floss. You hold a piece of floss tight in both hands and slide it down the seam where the wood is glued.

Repair the surface and add the crown to the mirror

add crown to mirror

Add crown to mirror

Luckily the frame was still in one piece but needed reinforcing. So I put wood glue into the cracks where the mitered pieces meet. After the glue dried I patched the nail holes and mitered joints with wood putty, then sanded it smooth after it was dry.

Then I made a paper pattern for the crown. I transferred the pattern to a piece of cardboard and cut it out with a utility knife. I glued the crown to the frame with Aleene’s tacky glue. A wire was also inserted into each point of the crown.

When everything was dry I covered the front of the frame with a thin layer of paper clay. That filled in the damaged areas and added texture. I wanted the sides and bottom to be smoother and the top crown portion to be bit more uneven. After the clay dried everything was sanded.

For the center of the crown I cut out a couple of stars from heavy cardboard. They were both covered with paper clay and given different textures. They were attached to the center of the crown with tacky glue and more paper clay.

Crown pattern for mirror

pattern for crown mirror

Pattern for crown mirror

Here’s the pattern I made for the crown. It measures about 12¼” x 6″. The bottom edge is about 7¼” which is the same length as the opening on the mirror.

Paint and finish the crown mirror

Painting is my favorite part! Following my inspiration piece, the sides and bottom were painted off white with metallic gold stars. The crown was painted light brown. Polka dots, squiggles and glitter were added. Aurora borealis beads were secured to the points of the crown. Picture wire was attached to the back which was simply painted black. Then the whole frame was varnished.

Voila! It’s finished! A unique work of art from an ugly mirror.

framed crown mirror by Lynda Makara

Framed crown mirror by Lynda Makara

Another view of the crown mirror

A side view of the framed crown mirror showing the multicolored polka dots and the purple glitter on the inner edge.

framed crown mirror by Lynda Makara

Framed crown mirror by Lynda Makara

One of the simplest ways to transform an ugly mirror is with paint


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