Q. There are blotches of black showing through the silver of my nice old mirror. Will I ever see my full reflection again?
A. Black splotches appear when a mirror’s protective coating breaks down and air gets to the silver, causing it to tarnish. There’s no do-it-yourself solution here’silver paint won?t do the job. If the mirror is nothing special, save yourself some trouble and just buy a new one. But if it’s unusual (shaped, beveled, engraved, or Grandma’s), you could consider getting it resilvered. There’s only one place around here we could find that offers this service: Armand Lee & Co. (840 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-455-1200), a business that also does custom framing, design consultation, and conservation and repair of art, antiques, and furniture.
The company, founded in 1940, has been resilvering mirrors since 1984. It’s a labor-intensive process that involves removing old silvering, cleaning the glass, and adding layers of sprayed-on solutions (one with real silver). “Quality control is so critical,” says Norman P. Olson, the president of Armand Lee. “If you don’t get the glass perfectly clean, the silvering won’t take properly and then you have to take it all off and start over again.” The jobs run $39.60 per square foot.
Olson says deciding whether or not to resilver is a personal preference. On antique mirrors, some people like the naturally aged look of a little blotchiness. Dan Popuch, owner of Daniel’s Antiques (3711 N. Ashland Ave., 773-868-9355), prefers to leave the dark spots alone. He says only in an “extreme case” would he resilver a mirror. “Some streaks and a little bit of cloudiness don’t bother me,” he says. “I think you should let them be antiques and show their age and character.”Have a design or renovation question” E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry, we cannot take questions by phone, or guarantee individual responses