Replacing Broken or Missing Wood Appliques

Replace Wood Applique
How to Fix Missing or Broken Wood Appliques

Have you ever had a mystery piece of furniture find you at the exact right time?

We had not planned to redo the half bath right away, but we had a leak by the toilet and my husband decided we should go ahead and have the floor replaced while the issue was being repaired.  As you might guess, once the floor was replaced, it was clear that I wasn’t going to allow the wallpaper to stay up.

old wallpaper removal
Bathroom wallpaper in the process of being removed.

Once the wallpaper was down and the bathroom was painted, the cabinets looked wrong and I had to refinish them.  Once that was done, of course, I needed a new counter, sink, and mirror for the bathroom.  So basically it was the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” of home decorating.  But, after I replaced the floor, bathroom faucet, removed the wallpaper, my husband cut off the renovation budget.  For some reason he can live with a project half done!

I figured I could live with the counter and sink not being replaced for a little while, but the mirror in the bathroom was not working.  The bathroom is 5×8 and has a huge long counter, but the mirror was a thin vertical “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” type of mirror.  I really wanted a huge large rectangular mirror for the space.  However, I also wanted to stay married, so I figured I would go get one of my mirrors out of storage and paint the frame black until I could finish the project.

I went over to my moms’ basement to find a large round mirror that I had stored there years ago.  I searched all of the storage areas and it was nowhere to be found.  However in the back of the picture storage area, I found a huge 43″x31″ mirror.  It was falling apart.  I had never seen it before.  My mother and I trade furniture, pictures, and accessories constantly, so finding a mirror I had never seen was odd.  Somehow, a giant mirror that no one we know ever owned was magically deliver to me from the cosmos!  The universe knows my taste well!

Sad mirror in need of repair
This is the mirror that wanted to get cleaned up and come live with me. It followed me home, I swear . . . .

The frame was very loose, so I repaired it by gluing, clamping, and nailing everything back to place.  However, I still needed to figure out what to do wit the missing applique.

Sad mirror with broken applique
This missing applique won’t do.

Since the other three appliques were in fine shape and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money replacing all of the appliques, I decided to make a replacement applique.  You will need the following supplies to make your replacement piece:

Sculpty Oven Baked Clay,
Plaster of Paris,
A nail file or Dremmel
Water.

  1.  Clean and dust the mirror.
  2. Break off a piece of the Sculpty Clay, roll it in a ball, and flatten it slightly.
  3. Firmly press the clay over an intact applique.

    Mold a good applique
    Making a mold by pressing the sculpty clay over an intact applique.
  4. Carefully, peel back the mold.  Flatten the back if necessary.

    wood applique mold after removal
    It should look like this.
  5. Do not bake the clay (I use this clay because it only gets hard when you bake it and it can be reused tons of times).  Mix your Plaster of Paris and water according to the package directions (alternately, you could use sandable wood filler if you want to stain the piece).
  6. Pour the Plaster into the mold and let the mold set.

    plaster in mold of applique
    Almost there!
  7. Peel back the clay and store it for future use in a ziplock bag.
  8. Sand the excess plaster off of the applique and smooth the edges (my beginning blogger self forgot to take pictures of this).
  9. Your applique should be done and you can now attach it to the frame.  I used wood glue and a clamp in this case and let it dry overnight.
  10. Paint the piece to your heart’s desire (or stain if you used stainable wood filler).
applique fixed
Repaired wood applique that has been painted.

Once it was painted, we couldn’t tell the old appliques apart from the new one.  I hung up the mirror and I love it!

after repairs and painting
Mirror after applique repair and a few coats of spray paint.

I love that it frames the birds on the back wall.  Have you replaced an applique before?  Did you use this method or another?  I would love to see pictures and hear about your experience!