Is your mirror playing tricks on you? Since prehistoric times, mirrors have held a strange facilitation over the psyche, tickling our brains and imaginations.
For each illusion, let’s discuss exactly how they work and how you can create them right in your own home.
Infinity mirror illusions consist of two parallel mirrors with a light source in between. The mirror in front is a two way mirror, while the mirror in the back is a standard mirror. When installed with lights in between it creates a series of smaller and smaller reflections that appear to be going off into infinity.
If the mirrors are not perfectly parallel to each other, the infinite reflections will look like they are veering off to one side. While this is an accident most of the time, it can be a really cool variation on this effect!
One of my favorite adaptations of this is our infinity mirror table. On the bottom we used an acrylic first surface mirror and bent it upwards in the center. This makes it possible for the infinite reflections to be seen from a wider viewing angle. This basically means that you can be across the room and still see the effect.
Infinity mirrors can be used in costumes like the infinity mirror dress and vest that you see on our channel. Since they are costumes, they have acrylic two way mirrors and standard mirrors within them. This makes them more safe and more lightweight. The only tricky part after you get it on is the wiring!
The bottomless pit mirror illusion utilizes the same infinity mirror technique. Instead of having lights, you can add a vinyl of rocky texture along the edge of the frame! You would illuminate the frame by using a regular lightbulb to really give the illusion that its a tunnel into an underground world. The important thing to remember is that you DO need lighting to make the infinite reflections more visible.
Yayoi Kusama is a super popular artist in the infinity mirror illusion art world. She has been creating infinity mirror room experiences since 1976. She started to discover herself as an artist at a young age.
She faced challenges within herself that she used to help create such beautiful and meaningful art. Within her art, you’ll see extensive use of polka dots. She said that she would see so many dots come to life and surround her that she felt obliterated.
In exhibits like Yayoi’s, it is paramount to use flat standard mirrors or first surface mirrors that are not tempered. Tempering causes mirror distortions in the reflection that can ruin the effect.
Cylinder Mirror Illusion
Next up on the mirror illusion list is the cylinder mirror illusion made famous by Kokichi Sugihara, a Japanese mathematician and artist. The trick of this three dimensional optical illusion is the shape of the cylinders themselves.
The actual shape is a blend of the two shapes, called a squarecle. This is made possible by making two of the corners lower than the other two.
When you look at the cylinder object, it can look like a circle or a square. However, when you put a mirror next to it, you will see the opposite shape due to it’s design. If you rotate the object by 180°, you’ll see the shapes flip sides in the real world–but the mirror reflection will do the opposite!
Your Father’s Nose is another viral illusion that is most commonly found in art exhibits and hands on museums. In a regular mirror you see your own face, right? Well, what if you looked into the mirror and saw a face that was half yours, and half someone else’s?
This installation is made possible by utilizing strips of mirror combined with strips that are NOT mirrored. This is what gives the illusion of the blend of two faces.
A prototype is easy to make but what if you want to actually have this installed in a museum? The answer is simpler than you think.
To achieve a safe, flat surface you can’t simply have gaps of air floating every 1″. A professional installation of this kind requires glass to be digitally printed with a mirror design.
The design needs to have a strip of mirror 1″ thick, followed by a strip with no mirror coating. This will go on all the way down the length of the mirror in a striped pattern. Since this cannot be with with a first surface mirror coating and has to be made with a standard mirror coating, a grey backing is applied to keep the coating intact.
To complete the illusion, two pieces like this are made and then installed facing away from each other. This allows both people to see the illusion simultaneously.
Another fun take on this type of mirror illusion is replacing the mirror with a low iron beamsplitter mirror. The mirror coating is transparent, so you can see yourself in the reflection as well as the person sitting across from you. Traditionally, two people who are together as a couple would do this to get a look at their future children.
Forest Mirror Illusion
This crazy forest mirror illusion has been bending people’s minds for years. To set the scene, Kevin Perry placed a standard full length mirror up against a tree in the woods. He starts out facing the mirror so you can’t see his reflection.
Perry then goes off to the side so you can’t see him in the reflection as he approaches the mirror. He goes all the way up to it until you can’t see the frame of the mirror.
That’s where the magic happens–
He steps through the mirror and comes out the other side.
Here’s what I think he did:
Once he gets the frame of the mirror out of the shot, he turns around 180°. Then, he starts walking the opposite direction, still appearing to move forward.
So basically, the video feed is cut when he rotates around. Or it’s possible that he only shot the footage going up to the mirror, then played it in reverse in the editing process.
The Pepper’s Ghost Illusion is a technique used in theater, theme parks, museums, television, and on stage performances.
One place where you can see this illusion in action currently, is installed at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. You’ll come across it when you board the Hogwarts train! In fact, there are tons of other installations that use beamsplitters this way at universal.
You may see beamsplitters involved in some of the other Harry Potter rides, or the Fast and Furious ride. The Fast and Furious ride uses a beamsplitter film stretched across a large area. This allows them to project life sized characters right before your eyes!
The Pepper’s Ghost illusion works by using a highly transparent beamsplitter mirror, also known as a teleprompter mirror. This mirror is 30% reflective, 70% transparent. It is a common misconception that you would want something more reflective.
The idea of the illusion is to have a piece of glass installed such that it cannot be seen. This means that it is a perfect match for the effect! If you use glass or acrylic two way mirrors, the reflection is much higher which would ruin the illusion.
When you angle the mirror and project onto the glass with a TV screen, you can see and image on the face of the glass. For the image to appear as floating or augmented into the scene, the TV background needs to be black. With the screen being black everywhere except where the projection is, it makes the projection really POP. Without this, it would not give you the augmented reality type of feel.
For on stage magic, this is done by keeping the ghost figure hidden in the dark in another room. When you want them to appear, you cast a light onto the subject and they magically show up on stage! With strategic use of the beamsplitter mirror, angles, and light control, a ghost can appear in plain sight.
Anti Gravity Mirror
This is one of the first mirror illusions to show up in museums! This works by using a regular mirror that is standing upright.
To give the illusion that you’re flying, you bisect your body by straddling the middle of the mirror. You then lift your leg, specifically on the side that people are looking at you from.
Your other leg will keep you upright as you stand, but it will look like both feet are off of the ground! Such a fun little exhibit! For a more seamless visual, you could use a glass first surface mirror so there is no gap between the two halves of your body.
This illusion was also used in the movie Star Wars.
Each car that raced across the sand in the desert of Tatooine had a mirror fixed to the bottom.
When a camera was pointed at the car, it saw sand and shadows beneath the car rather than the wheels!
The true mirror is made using two first surface mirrors. Historically, it is also known as a non-reversing mirror. This is because when you look into a true mirror with a shirt on that has text , you can still read it in the correct orientation!
It is made by joining two first surface mirrors at roughly a 90° angle. Angled just right, you cannot see the seam between the two mirrors. This gives off the illusion that it is one flat surface!
When you look into a true mirror, it optically restores your true image from your mirror image. You can see yourself not just as you look, but as you really are, in real time.
Some people don’t like it because it is not how they see themselves, but wouldn’t you want to know how others see you?
Mirror TV’s are a stunning masterpiece that transforms your décor. Finally, there is an elegant solution to hide that big black box on the wall!
As seen on the DIY Network, Tiny House Nation, He Shed She Shed, Treehouse Masters and more! It utilizes the Dielectric Mirror which is a transparent mirror that goes in front of the TV.
When you hold the dielectric mirror up in the air it looks like clear glass. However, when its fully installed, it becomes a mirror on the wall. Then when you turn the TV on, it shows through the mirror.
This type of mirror illusion has many different variations! For instance, you can install it in our bathroom as a vanity mirror TV. For this project you would use a more reflective mirror, called the glass smart mirror.
It matches the tint and quality of a standard mirror, so it’s easy to see yourself as you get ready. When the TV turns on, you see it through the mirror, just like before. Typically the mirror in the bathroom is larger, which is totally fine!
This effect is achieved by painting the back of the glass smart mirror back everywhere but where the screen is.
Then the smart mirror projects were born. By simply connecting a computer to your mirror TV, you can display the time, weather, social media updates, latest news, and more!
To give it a futuristic look, it is most often programmed with a black background and white text. This allows the text to “float” on the surface of the mirror.
Through the years, many have questioned if its worth the investment to get one installed. I’ll be the first to tell you that while it does have a real world function of showing time, it’s really more of a high tech home décor item that you get because you geek out on it.
Mirror Photo Booths
While this is not what you would normally expect in a mirror illusion list, its another super cool variation of the mirror TV. This time it combines the Glass Smart Mirror with a DSLR camera, TV, computer, touch technology and optional printing.
Imagine it now… you’re at a family event and no one breaks out their phone to take a picture. Don’t let the whole event go undocumented!
Put out a photo booth and it suddenly becomes fun to take pictures with friends and family. With how advanced the programming is now you can press a few buttons on the screen and share instantly on Facebook, Instagram and via text message.
To make one you need an IR Touch Overlay which allows you to control the computer by touching the glass. Without it, you can still make a mirror booth but you may need voice activation to take the picture in that case.
The camera hides behind the mirror near the top of the photo booth, along with the TV and computer. Most of my clients like to add on printing to their photo booth business as an add on because some people just really like that memento.
Come on, who doesn’t have a grandma that struggles with their phone and technology in general?
Magic Coin Bank
The magic coin bank is a super fun way to store your extra change! When you drop a coin you watch it magically disappear. There is a secret compartment that can accessed by sliding off the top.
It works by placing a mirror at a 45 degree angle within the box so that it appears like you can see the entire contents of the box when you look at it straight on! When the coin drops, it falls on the other side of the mirror.
This gives the illusion that the coin disappears completely, yet when you shake the box, you can hear it. If you plan on making this at home, it’s recommended to use an acrylic mirror so it doesn’t shatter!
The Skinny Mirror
The skinny mirror is a full-length mirror that makes the person standing in front of it look 5-10 pounds lighter. In October, 2015, Belinda shared her business with Shark Tank on TV which turned out to be highly controversial.
What was meant to boost self esteem turned into retail stores utilizing the technology to make more sales. When you’re out trying things on and you think you look good, you’re going to buy what they’re selling!
While I love the idea of it for at home use, it feels criminal for stores to have them in the dressing room area. While it is no longer on the market, the business owner is open to selling her trademark or company.
The illusion works by using an acrylic mirror that can be bent slightly to give you a more slim appearance. I am totally a fan of self-actualization and if you could see a thinner you every day, wouldn’t that help you with your fitness goals?
I’ve been told by many to act as though you’re already thin and the results will follow. How is this any different?
A mirror maze is usually part of a theme park or commonly found in areas with a lot of foot traffic looking to do something touristy.
The concept behind a house of mirrors is that you can’t tell if you’re walking toward a mirror or an empty space due to the geometry of the mirrors and shape of the room.
To create your own mirror maze you have to put together a series of triangles. I recommend starting out with a triangle grid like this one, then start to eliminate walls within the triangles to form the maze with one entrance and one exit.
Triangles are often used because it plays tricks with your eyes! Everywhere you look it could be a corner or the edge of a new mirror. I’ve been to some that also add in 3D glasses and laser lights to make it even harder to get out!