How to Make a Claude Mirror

Written by dan seitz
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How to Make a Claude Mirror
Capture the tones of an image easily with a Claude mirror. (painting image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

The Claude mirror was named after artist Claude Lorrain and was a popular artist's tool in the 18th and 19th century. It was a black, slightly convex mirror that softened the colours and tones of the images and made it easier to determine what colours and shades were in an image. As photography has become more common, the Claude mirror has fallen into disuse. Fortunately for artists, it's simple to make your own with a few simple materials.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pane of glass
  • Clamps
  • Rods
  • Eye protection
  • Blowtorch
  • Matt black paint
  • Box with lid
  • Foam
  • Black cloth
  • Superglue

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  1. 1

    Lay your pane of glass on a flameproof surface. Place the clamps on the four corners of the glass, and connect the clamps with rods.

  2. 2

    Heat the glass with a low flame from your blowtorch, moving the flame over the surface of the glass slowly. Heat the glass evenly to avoid cracking or warping.

  3. 3

    Once the glass is heated enough to be flexible, slowly lift the clamps until the glass has a slight convex surface. Leave the glass to cool and harden for 24 hours.

  4. 4

    Check the hardened glass for any imperfections. Heat these with the torch and smooth them out if possible. Allow glass to cool and harden.

  5. 5

    Turn the glass over and paint the concave side black. Use a paint that will stick to glass. Apply several coats. Turn the glass around after the paint has dried and look in it. Find any areas where the black paint did not stick and paint over them until you have a smooth, continuous black mirror.

  6. 6

    Place the foam in your box and place your mirror on top. The mirror should sit just below the lip of the box, touching all sides of the box. Cover the foam and the visible sides of the box with the black cloth. Place the mirror inside, and superglue the mirror all around the edge of the box. Let the glue set for 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider using glass from picture frames instead of getting a pane of glass custom cut.
  • Be very careful with torches and fire sources. Only use them if you have training and know what you are doing.

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