A-Z of miniatures crafts: A for antiquing

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09 April 2020
Ever wondered about the process of antiquing in miniatures? Learn all about antiquing techniques and how to 'antique' a wall mirror today.

Anyone who has ever constructed a historic miniature scene has been confronted with a conundrum: how do I make my scene's elements look antique? 

The answer you've been looking for is known as 'antiquing', a technique you'll wish you'd learned years ago!

Read on to find out all about the process of antiquing in miniatures  and learn how to antique a wall mirror to put your new antiquing technique to the test. 

What is antiquing?

We've all heard of 'upcycling' by now, haven't we? Where you take something old and turn it into something new. The process of antiquing in miniatures (and in full size too) involves the opposite: making something new or modern and making it look antique.


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What can be antiqued?

Almost anything! The antiquing technique is mostly used on wooden and metal surfaces, however, as wood and metal tend to be the easiest and most convincing materials to antique. Miniature furniture, suitcases, picture frames, jewellery... you name it, it can be antiqued!

What's great about knowing how to antique a wooden surface is it helps you learn how to antique miniatures in general. Once you've tried antiquing a wooden surface, you've gained a skill for life. 

How to antique a wall mirror

By Jane Harrop

You will need

  • Crafter’s acrylic or emulsion paint
  • Tin of medium brown coloured shoe polish
  • Light brown coloured spirit based wood stain
  • Kitchen paper towel


1. Start with white untreated wood before beginning the process of antiquing anything wooden.

How to antique miniatures

2. Choose a paint colour sympathetic to the time period you are wishing to reproduce and apply several thin layers of paint, allowing each to dry before applying another.

How to antique miniatures

3. Once dry, apply brown shoe polish over the painted piece, ensuring coverage in all the cracks and crevices.

How to antique miniatures

4. Wipe ALL the shoe polish off immediately using a piece of paper towel and leave only the faintest trace in the grain of the wood. In any awkward areas, remove excess polish using the tip of a cocktail stick.

How to antique miniatures

5. Buff using a clean piece of paper towel to produce a smooth, soft sheen and create the patina of old age. If the piece still feels sticky after the process, repeat steps 4 and 5.

How to antique miniatures

Top tip: If you aren’t sure about the typical colours for your chosen time period, visit the 'Categories' section of the blog for inspiration on miniatures for different eras.

6. Age the mirror itself by applying alight coloured spirit based wood stain and then blotting with paper towel to create a mottled effect and leave to dry.

How to antique miniatures

Antiquing a wooden surface


  1. Applying brown shoe polish and removing immediately will age the painted wooden surface by subtly tainting its colour.
  2. The buffing process creates a mellow patina that is closely associated with old age.
  3. We recommend always practicing on a wooden off-cut beforehand.
  4. You can antique a stained wooden surface by applying a slightly darker coloured shoe polish and following the same procedures.

How to antique miniatures

Antiquing metal

Create a tarnished finish on metal pieces by applying a medium brown coloured spirit based stain.

Or, to create an even more rustic look, have a look at our article on distressing and aging tin and metal buckets.

How to antique miniatures

Have you enjoyed learning how to antique miniatures? Are you ready to learn more skills like these antiquing techniques? Don't miss the next tutorial where you'll learn how to make miniature books!

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