Thursday, June 17, 2010

mirror mirror on the wall...

We're back at the city house for a week while we teach this workshop. The only thing I like better about the city house than the country house is the bathroom. Well, not the bathroom exactly, since it is very small, about 6' square. You can sit on the toilet, reach over and turn on the faucet at the sink with your right hand and open the shower door with your left. No, what I like about the bathroom here is the mirror, the small framed antique with silver stains mirror. Also the dim light. When I look at my image in that mirror in the dim light, it's what I don't see that I like so much.

I've never really understood the desirability of big mirrors and bright lights in the bathroom and as an artist working in etched glass, I've been in plenty of bathrooms that have just that. Whenever I'm in one of those, I spend a lot of time not looking in the mirrors but at the window where our installation is going on. It's too glaring and the image looking back at me shows every line and pore in excruciating detail.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind aging. I don't try to hide the time on my face with make-up, I won't ever try to erase the lines with plastic surgery. I have no need to look perpetually young. After all, the hills and valleys on my face only mean that I haven't died yet. And I consider that to be a good thing. Each line and the cross hatched texture of my skin represent a life well lived but I don't need to see them highlighted with light and shadow every time I look in a mirror.

This disinterest in mirrors is not new. When I moved into this house 35 years ago, there was no mirror in the bathroom so I hung the only one I had available to me at the moment, the mirror from my antique chest of drawers. Somehow I never got around to replacing it. It doesn't really give me the illusion of youth. I still see that I have aged. I see the lines, I see the gray starting to creep into my hair. I see, more and more, my maternal aunt and sometimes my mother. But it is a soft sight, not stark like the big mirror and bright florescent light in the bathroom of the country house.

We want to do some work in the bathroom at the country house. The people we bought it from had it remodeled with a long counter that crowds the toilet between it and the wall. There is one sink which is plenty but it is not centered in the counter and is not under the mirror. It's at the end of the counter. On the wall above it is one of the cabinets. We find this to be very curious. We want to shorten the counter and center the sink, but the first thing is, that mirror, that large clear mirror, that mirror has got to go.


  1. Hm, time to do a little flea-marketing for an antique mirror for the country house? I love poking around for treasures like that.

  2. I understand completely. I don't care about getting old, I just want to know who the older woman is that keeps following me into my bathroom, and who in the heck let her in?

  3. Our bathroom at work is one of those that reveals every line - & hair! I've thought about bringing my tweezers in & having a go at my eyebrows, but I think the management would frown.

  4. Indeed it has to go. Smash that SOB!

    LOVE this post Ellen. And believe me when I tell you that I stand alongside you proud of my silver hair and crows' feet (crows' feet? what crows' feet??!?!?!).

    Good to see you sweetie.

  5. I love the lines in this soft old mirror! Old mirrors are kinder and gentler, aren't they?

  6. I hate those huge mirrors in the bathroom! I have one of those in three door mirrors and I f I position myself just right ...... I look a lot smaller!

  7. I hear you on the mirror with the bright lights, cher! Time to go shopping for an antique one and low watt bulbs! :)

  8. Its not so much the mirror as the frames I love. I'm with Marguerite energy-saving lightbulbs are the answer!

  9. It sounds like a little antique mirror with aged glass is in order....a gentle reflection is all we need, xv.

  10. When I moved in here, there were like nine kajillion watt bulbs over the bathroom mirror. I practically needed protective goggles to go in and brush my teeth! I'm a little bit photosensitive anyway.

    I replaced them as they burned out with first 40 watt bulbs and now 25's. Sounds like it would be terribly dim but it isn't. It is softly lit, though.

  11. You described my master bathroom down to the opening of the shower door and touching the sink while sitting on the toliet. It's small, really, really, small...

  12. I agree about the invasiveness of mirrors. Out of sight, out of mind.

  13. I never like big mirrors in bathrooms either. Age is another matter for me. Coming to terms always with fine lines.

  14. Mirrors definitely create some kind of echo that can be nice or turn into a downwards spiraling loop. I have never understood bright lights or mirrors in bathrooms either. I guess if you have a splinter it makes sense. Or get a hair in your eye or something. Who knows?

    That said, of course I love reflections so I'm kind of in love with mirrors. Yours is beautiful.

    Happy weekend!

  15. Lets see - how can I age the mirror in my bathroom?

  16. I love mirrors of any kind. I don't mind aging so I don't mind noticing the fact in mirrors. I like to see mirrors in public places because it enables me to see things behind and all around--it's like having eyes in the back of your head. I think if others have to suffer the vision of me, I should have to face it also.

  17. I love that mirror... but I am a mirror girl!

  18. I also loathe mirrors, always have done. Only useful to check for stray hairs in odd places.

  19. You are obviously not old enough yet to NEED bright lights in the bathroom. It is the only place where I actually have mirrors with lights over them. I need to reveal every line, otherwise I might get ideas above my station!.
    Joking apart, my eyesight isn't good enough to see what I need to see, so one bright mirror in the house is necessary.

  20. I agree about mirrors.

    Thinking of Dad with Alztheimers, the mirrors were his friends and he carried on great conversations with the old gentleman in the mirror.

  21. Mirror Mirror
    On my bathroom wall
    Shall I move you down the hall?
    Or out the door
    and to the dump
    No more reflections
    of a growing rump
    And in your place
    My pretty face
    In younger days
    Pink and plump, but never grays.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

  22. I inherited a bathroom with a very large mirror; it's at least 7' X 4' and runs the entire length of the counter. I would like to replace it with one lovely mirror.
    In the house I built in the country I had a long counter with two sinks, but above each I had lovely matching mirrors from Mexico. I absolutely loved them. If I thought I could get this monstrosity off the wall & replace it with one or a pair of lovely mirrors I'd jump at it.
    As for the aging thing I can certainly identify, but I would go for a little tuck to tighten the skin around my mouth.


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.