I’ve been wanting to create a DIY rattan mirror for a while. Now, you know I love working with rattan – I made this fluted serving tray and this rattan ring dish – but rattan reeds are only manageable up until a certain thickness. Larger reeds, like the kind used to make furniture, are hard to bend even if properly soaked! Was that going to stop me from making a rattan mirror? Of course not, if something doesn’t work, you start looking for workarounds!
I tried a few designs and materials and finally landed on the right one. Guess what, it’s not rattan, it’s raffia AKA “faux” rattan because the overall look is very similar! So grab a bunch of natural raffia and read on to find out how to make a rattan mirror (the easy way)!
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Step 1: Twist the raffia into a frame
To begin, separate a bunch of raffia strands and twist them into a rope about as thick as your thumb. Apply some glue to the raffia, burying the drops of glue into the strands. Continue twisting and gluing as you go along, holding the raffia in place for a few seconds until the glue has had time to cool down. This method will create a twisted rope that doesn’t unravel so it’s much easier to work with.
Twist the raffia until you have created a rope that go all the way around the edges of your mirror. To make it easy to keep track, I kept the mirror on my worktable and checked regularly whether I had reached the correct length.
Once you have enough rope to go around the mirror, continue twisting one end of the rope for about 2″ (5cm) making sure to bend the rope up, like in the pictures above.
Next, twist the other end of the rope, also bending it up at first for 4″ (10cm). Once you’ve reached 4″, start twisting the rope and shaping it into a loop for another 4 or 5″. This is the shape of the mirror frame handle!
When you’re done, you can add a few drops of glue to both ends of the rope to secure them, or tie them with a rubber band.
Now that you’ve completed the larger frame, start twisting a smaller bunch of raffia strands to create the inner frame. I made a rope that was about 1/4″ thick (5 or 6mm). This one doesn’t have a handle, it’s a simple frame that goes around the mirror. So, twist the rope until you have enough to frame the edges of the mirror and, when you’re done, secure the ends as you did for the larger frame.
Step 2: Clean & stain the frame
Since we’re working with natural raffia, the strands are different lengths and thicknesses. This is the beauty of working with natural material but your rope might be looking a little too wild! Just grab a pair of scissors and start cutting any jutting strands to clean up the twist.
This step is optional, depending on the type of raffia you’re working with and your personal taste. Mine was a tad on the light side and I would have preferred a medium tan look reminiscent of vintage rattan furniture. If you want the same look, just brush a coat or two of wood stain on both frames. Try this one for a lovely golden shade and low VOC! Bonus: the stain will smooth down any remaining stray strands of raffia sticking out!
Step 3: Glue the DIY Rattan Mirror frame
To glue the outer frame, apply a small line of glue for a couple of inches right at the edge of the mirror. Press the frame into the glue and hold it for a few seconds. You have to work fast because glue cools down super quick once you drop it on glass! Continue gluing the frame around the mirror.
Next, shape the loop into a handle. If needed, cut the ends of the rope to make sure both ends meet nicely, like in the picture above. Pinch the loop and apply a generous amount of glue – don’t be shy, really. Then, hold the handle while the glue cools down.
Now, glue the inner frame. This will cover up any visible glue from the larger frame. Once you’ve glued the small frame around the mirror, cut the end short and glue it in place.
Step 4: Finish the frame handle
Finally, to finish the handle, glue a few strands of raffia to the back of the handle. Wrap the strands around a few times then secure them with some glue and cut them short. If you stained the frame, you’ll just need to apply a coat of stain to the last bit of raffia you added and you’re done!
And voila! A faux rattan mirror made from natural materials to bring a touch of Boho to your decor, and for the fraction of the cost!