Video: Although mirrors have been around for thousands of years, a German chemist named Justus von Liebig made a breakthrough that would make the modern manufacture of them possible. Add some sugar to ammoniated silver nitrate, pour it onto glass, and blammo: You have yourself a mirror.
Gif source: Instagram / Dave Smith
It's slightly more complicated than that, if only because silver nitrate is highly poisonous. But artist Dave Smith makes it look easy in this recent Instagram post:
Here's a clearer view of the finished product:
The process looks even cooler when Smith pours the liquid metal substance onto glue-chipped glass, producing beautiful patterns:
Chemical Silvering over glue chipped glass. Once the silver is mixed the chemical reaction starts and then when poured onto the glass the deposition takes to the surface turning the texture into a beautiful reflective mirror. Keeping these crafts alive through workshops and social media will prevent them from becoming lost arts. Thanks for the recent private messages and kind words by everyone here about these films and my work this past few weeks. #alchemy #wizard
Science is cool! So is art!