Ding, Ding, Ding. Revi guessed correctly. I used bleach to achieve that beautifully aged look on my mirror.
When my youngest son was in Junior High School, I helped him with a science project on corrosives. Bleach was one of them. It will corrode the silver backing on mirrors.
As always, be safe. Protect your lungs, hands, and eyes. I would also suggest that you do this outside.
You can use a spray bottle to spritz it, full strength, on the back of the mirror. How fast you achieve your desired level of aging depends on how thick the protective layer is that covers the silvering. The bleach has to be able to penetrate the silver. You can remove the protective layer (stripper, or whatever method you like). I used a mild orange strip to remove a layer from the back of this mirror. I didn't remove it completely, but I thinned it quite a bit. I also scraped it in a few random spots. Once I washed it off and let it dry, I doused it with bleach.
Then I just leaned it against the garage and forgot about it for a few days. I left it in the elements, which I think helped to create an even cooler effect.
When I checked back, it had this nice smoky distressed look.
Wash the back once you've achieved your desired level of distressing. You can apply black paint to protect the back. I just left this one the way it was.
The finish on the frame is courtesy of left over gesso mix from my last post.
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