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Mirror Mavericks

Author: Kim Hill
Issue: November, 2008, Page 90
Anna and Scott Sadler display some of their custom designs in front of a new mirror that they aged for an Old World-style home.

Photography by Brendan Moore
There’s an old saying in home design that everything old is new again.

Faux finishers Anna and Scott Sadler have put a new twist on the cliché, taking mirrors fresh from the assembly line and hand-aging them. The artisans don’t just antique mirrors, however; they apply patterns to them as well, creating works of art that literally reflect their owners.

The Sadlers began applying pattern and patina to mirrors as a natural progression of their decorative painting business, Surface Refinements. The couple has painted murals on walls and ceilings and applied finishes to floors and furniture. “We felt like we’d explored all the surfaces,” explains Anna. “The mirrors were an extension of asking ourselves ‘What can we paint next?’”

A decorative painter for more than 20 years, Anna jokes that she was “born with a paintbrush in my hand” and recalls a time early in her career when faux finishing meant sponge painting. As her skills progressed, she began experimenting with techniques to duplicate Venetian and other classical wall finishes.

Scott was Anna’s personal trainer before they married 10 years ago; in exchange for helping her shed 25 pounds, she taught him the art of decorative painting. Native Canadians, they lived and worked as faux-finish artisans in Toronto, Montreal, and Naples, Florida, before moving to Scottsdale three years ago. “We’d had enough of the hurricanes,” explains Scott.

Custom patterns include Pont D’Avignon
Aging new mirrors is a six-step process that begins with stripping the paint backing from each piece. The Sadlers say they use new mirrors because they know how these will react to the chemicals in the stripping compound. “This compound is the real trick of our trade,” says Scott. “It allows the mirror to age without harming it because the chemical reaction is very gentle.”

After the stripping process is complete, the Sadlers apply an antiquing solution. They document every mirror they age with the time of day, month and the amount of time the solution was on the surface, says Scott. “We control the aging process,” he explains. “We threw a lot of mirrors in the trash when we were first starting, and we will still get rid of a mirror that’s not right.” Once aged, the mirror’s pattern is applied. This can vary from a simple ornamental design to elaborate patterns that nearly obscure the mirror’s reflecting quality.

The mirrors have been hung over fireplaces and in entryways, but they’ve also been installed in unexpected places: as kitchen cabinetry facings, covering entire walls, and between the beams in a coffered ceiling.

The Sadlers’ work fits well in Old World-style homes, according to Scotts-
dale architect Barbara Csaki of Csaki Design, LLC. “Their mirrors look like they were hung for years in an old house or in an old castle in Europe,” says Csaki, who recommended the couple to embellish mirrors in a Gothic-style home she designed for BedBrock Developers. “They’re very good with getting the color just right for an antiqued look. They are professional, and their work quality is phenomenal.”

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