Mirror, mirror on the hand, what's the most beautiful vintage compact in the land?
March 2, 2011 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been looking for the perfect two-mirror compact mirror for awhile now. It’d be a bonus if one mirror is magnifying. I keep finding some beautiful vintage ones on Etsy, but they usually have a drawback – that one side contains crusty, decades-old makeup. Ick. If I were to buy a vintage compact, would it be possible to put a mirror in the second side? Perhaps a framer could do it?
posted by orange swan to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My first thought would be to ask a jeweler.

When I was a picture framer there was no way we would have been able to do that. Things may have changed, but I doubt you'd find a place willing to alter an antique. If you did I wouldn't trust them not to ruin the piece. Kind of a Catch-22.

If you had a mirror in exactly the right size you could try to glue (E600 or something similarly heavy duty) it into the compact. I wouldn't really recommend it though.

If you're looking for places to buy nice looking new mirrored compacts, I like this one at Red Envelope.

Another thing to consider would be searching for perfume compacts. At least there wouldn't be any gross make-up, just gross perfume.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:50 AM on March 2, 2011

It might be easier to just clean out the crusty old makeup and replace that side with pretty paper, fabric, a photo, or the like.

What about searching flea markets, antique/curiosity shops, and the like? I find that there is a high signal to noise/caveat emptor level on Etsy, whereas a reputable dealer isn't going to try to sell you something that is unsanitary or not really useful for its intended purpose. If there is crusty makeup to clean out, they will do it themselves before attempting to sell the item. You pay a premium for that, but it's better than having to touch some long-dead matron's PanCake dregs.
posted by Sara C. at 1:37 PM on March 2, 2011

I would expect a glass shop would be where to go to get a mirror cut to size.
posted by d4nj450n at 1:57 PM on March 2, 2011

A glass shop could probably cut it to size, and you'd just need to glue the mirror in. Craft stores and some fabric stores like Spotlight may also stock small mirrors in round shapes. You could also try googling things like "making mirror compact" and no doubt, someone, somewhere would have done it and could point you in the right direction!
posted by shazzam! at 8:05 PM on March 2, 2011

Are you only keen on vintage ones? Here is a compact where one side is 5x magnification and the other is a regular mirror, and one with both 10x magnification and regular mirror. Or am I missing the point, which is to buy or retrofit a vintage compact? Perhaps you could use your crafty skills to decorate these plain cases?
posted by barnone at 9:36 PM on March 2, 2011

Here is a clean vintage compact on Etsy, with a regular mirror and a magnifying mirror. And a number on eBay, some vintage and some new.

Again, apologies if the question was really only about how to retro fit a compact with new mirrors, in which case I agree that a mirror/glass shop should be able to do it.
posted by barnone at 9:40 PM on March 2, 2011

Ideally, I would be buying a ready-made double mirror compact, but the problem with that is I'm having trouble finding one that I really, really like. I want it to be gold-toned, and have that interesting, elegant kind of detail one usually only gets in a vintage piece.

So I've gone ahead and bought the ribbon-detailed compact I linked to in my question. The Etsy seller described it as vintage but unused and in mint condition. It actually is clean and empty on the second side, the existing mirror is in good shape, and while it does come with a screen and a puff they are pristine. I'll try inquiring at a glass shop and/or looking for a mirror the right size, but if I can't have a second mirror put in it is still a useable item as is.

Thanks, everyone. I'll post back if I succeed in retrofitting the compact.
posted by orange swan at 9:58 AM on March 4, 2011

Well, I took the compact to my neighbourhood framing shop and they called the factory that they deal with that does custom jobs like this. It would have cost $50 or so to go that route, so I didn't go with it. The woman at the framer's thought she might be able to hand cut a mirror, and the two of us made a template for that, but she ended up saying she couldn't. She then suggested I take it to my neighbourhood stained glass shop.

I do stained glass myself and if I can get a small thin mirror might just try cutting the mirror myself, but first I will ask at the shop to see if they have any advice for me.
posted by orange swan at 8:48 PM on April 26, 2011

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