I have probably tried everything over the years, with limited success. You can mask off an area (sign vinyl is good for this because it is SO sticky), use paint remover to dissolve the paint, will get you down to the copper layer. Rinse very well with distilled water & let dry. Vinegar will remove the copper, though slowly- and ammonia will remove the silver, again, rinse very well with distilled water. The biggest problem is getting it to stop there. When you expose the metals, they want to continue tarnishing. The best luck I have had was as soon as the piece is dry, seal the edges with paint, which in effect (if you do it right), makes a frame for your image. (Picture masking off all of the newly stripped glass, leaving a 1/16″ border)

When I was doing many tons of mirror, while at the factory, I noticed them running a silver line with no copper & no paint, basically making one way glass. This was called “first surface mirror” and is used for one way glass and signage. Silk screeners take that FSM, screen an ink that removes the silver, then proceed to screen on all the layers that make up a sign, then seal the whole thing with paint. I currently have, in my grubby little paws, the chemicals required to do “Angel Gilding”, and am waiting for a less hectic time to do Silver, Gold, and Galena (black) gilding. The process is simple, the technique requiring many little light bulbs going off in your head as you learn. I feel strongly that this is the best way to achieve what you are looking for, as the first method I described sometimes fails within a year or two. (There are still some out there that I made 20 years ago, but more died than survived)

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June 2021
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