Over the years I’ve built up a nice little collection of foreign coins from my travels. I’m not very good at using them overseas and often forget you’re not able to exchange coins back into your local currency. I used to keep them in a piggy bank for my inevitable return to each country but it seemed like a waste. With so many interesting designs I thought perhaps there would be a way to display them. After searching the web, I decided a coin mirror would be a fun craft project and could hopefully use up some of the surplus. Read on if you’d like to know how I did it.
- Mirror + Frame
- Paint + Brush
A few notes on my materials:
I picked up a frame at Spotlight and would recommend this one since the mirror was removable – ideal for when you were painting and varnishing the frame. I imagine you could find a similar one online for a good price too.
For glue, I went with a Maxi Nails formula from Bunnings. I also got my varnish there in a spray can for easy application.
The paint and paintbrush were both found around the house. You could use any paint colour and I just went with what was readily available.
Finally, to avoid making a mess or getting chemicals and paint on yourself grab some disposable gloves. It’ll make clean-up much easier and prevent glue from getting on your hands.
1. Wash the coins
Coins and money in general are pretty gross. They pass through a lot of hands and wallets before reaching you so I would definitely recommend washing your coins first. I opted for a bit of warm soapy water and an old toothbrush. There are plenty of methods to get the coins shinier (check online) but I liked their used look and varying colours, so decided on a quick wash to get rid of surface grime only.
2. Paint the frame
Now that your coins are clean, it’s time to prep the frame. Ideally, you’ll use an undercoat to prevent it from soaking into the frame…I may have forgotten this step. In good news, it still works if you go straight on with paint but it will likely soak into the frame a bit first. Give it a few good coats and leave overnight (or longer) to dry. You don’t have to paint the frame but knowing there’d be a lot of gaps between the coins I wanted to cover the cheap wood appearance. You could choose any paint colour you like or go natural with a wood stain finish.
3. Attach your coins with glue
Here comes the fun part. Your frame is ready and should be nice and dry. Stretch your creative muscles and start gluing the coins to your frame. I found it easier to start in one section and work my way from inside to outside, hoping to avoid running out of coins for the whole frame. Decide which way you’re going to hang it first as well, to make it easier to decide if you want all the coins facing the same way or prefer a more random look. I also organised my coins into piles by size first so that when I was looking for a mini or mid-sized coin for filling gaps I could see all the colours available.
4. Varnish for protection
Your coin mirror is done! Hopefully you’re happy with how it looks, because it’s definitely glued down now. The final step – totally optional – is to give it a coat of clear varnish. This can help protect the coins from getting too dirty and will make it easier for you to clean off dust. I opted for a spray can varnish and gave it a couple of coats before leaving overnight to dry. It had a satin sheen but you could choose a high-gloss finish as well; really whatever makes you happy.
So, there you have it! It wasn’t hard at all and I’m pretty pleased with the end result. I even had a few coins left over at the end. The coin mirror now hangs in my home office and I think it’s a fun way to display my travels and appreciate the coins.
Julia is a Melbourne-based writer specialising in content marketing and digital content. When she’s not writing, you’ll usually find her sipping hot tea, reading a great book and planning the next big travel adventure. Visit Work With Me if you’d like to collaborate.
Hi Julia, Nice idea for coins! I want to use a rectangle frame and wonder how that would work? What do you think is the best way to overlap the coins as to not see the background? Again, beautiful work! Thank you 😊
So glad you found this helpful! With round coins you’ll always be having some gaps in between. Two options: 1) use a dark paint for your frame that makes the background less prominent, 2) add a second layer of coins to cover the gaps
Pinterest has quite a lot of ‘penny art’ inspiration which may help you find a way to make the gaps part of your art too. See: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/470274386072668275/
Thanks Julia. I’ll check it out. Be well. Susan