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About Galena Mirrors

Galena Mirror Mosaic Table TopGalena mirrors are dark - the color of tarnished pewter, polished hematite or the "lead" in a lead pencil. Looking at a Galena mirror is like wearing sunglasses.

On smooth glass, the color is quiet and sophisticated. It is more dramatic on textured glass. The mosaic table-top at the left illustrates the difference.

What is galena?

Galena is an ancient name for lead sulfide - the chemical that forms on the glass when you create a galena mirror.

Lead and lead sulfide are poisonous only if you take them into your body. They do not emit odors or fumes. Use common sense, wear rubber gloves and store your chemicals out of the reach of children, pets and other curious visitors.

Galena changes colors

Galena chemicals change color as they deposit - from brown to purple to blue to gray to black. You can capture this change if you watch carefully and pour the chemicals off the glass at just the right moment. The effect is more noticeable on textured glass.

Galena tarnishes silver

The sulfide in the galena chemicals will tarnish your silver chemicals. Keep your mixing containers separate and rinse your equipment well after using galena. On the other hand, you can create some great antiquing effects by depositing a layer of galena over a layer of thin silver.

Galena mirrors:

  • Require two sensitizers - Tin for Gold and Palladium Sensitizer.
  • Can be deposited over gold or "flashed" silver; see Metal Layers for details.
  • Contain sulfur which tarnishes silver
  • Work very well on sandblasted glass; the color looks like wrought iron
  • Reflect 35% of the available light

To make Galena mirrors, you will need: