The French word trumeau, originally referred to the space between windows. In the 18th century, the French started manufacturing trumeau mirrors to hang in these spaces, providing a decorative element and bringing more light into the room.
Antique trumeau mirrors range from carved, unpainted wood to painted and partially gilded, all the way to highly ornate and entirely gilded.
The mirror is almost always rectangular and if old, most often the glass is tarnished with grey and black spots. The decorative portion above the mirror glass, may even include a painting.
Those designed to be placed above a mantelpiece, rather than between windows, would have had candles placed in front of the mirror to increase ambient light.
Reproductions of 18th-century trumeau mirrors became popular in the Regency period and in the 1950s, when French furniture was popular. Today, with the increasing interest in French style interiors, trumeau mirrors are highly sought after. A genuine antique trumeau can cost between US$2000 and US$20,000.
Making your own trumeau mirror and finishing it to look like a real antique trumeau, is not an impossible task. It could be a large floor standing piece or a smaller overmantle trumeau. The colours and finishes can vary, but the process remains the same.
In Module 6 of the FARRAGOZ Online Course, students are given the opportunity to learn the basic process of how to make a small trumeau mirror and the decorative ornaments to apply to it, from scratch. Alternatively, they can start with an existing mirror and build on that. Finally they will learn how to paint and distress it to look authentically old, using original homemade paint recipes.
With the skills and knowledge acquired in completing this project, students can move on to designing and producing their own trumeau mirrors in whatever size and finish they desire.
In my next post, I hope to share my recently completed shell trumeau.
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