• Ceiling glitter — where to buy it — and my very pressing questions

    ceiling glitterI was up at Miller Supply Co. in Pittsfield recently, picking up a framing project, and while I was there I got to talking with Steve Miller, the owner. Miller’s has been in Pittsfield for decades. I asked him whether something in an old store display was still available (it wasn’t), and then I thought to ask: What do you have left that is really really old? One of the items he pointed me to: Vintage Ceiling Glitter — in silver and gold. He has just a half dozen or so containers left and, “When it’s gone,  it’s gone,” he said. Ceiling glitter: Yes, that was sure another “thing”. 

    ceiling-glitter-2-2But I have some pressing questions:

    • Golly, how do you install it? I see from the plastic container cover that guns were used — that, I get. I can go online today and see guns for blowing ceiling glitter. But “throw by hand”? You must be kidding me. What a bloody mess? How in the world? You must not only need to wear goggles but also a zoot suit. And the stuff is expensive — wouldn’t you want to collect the excess and put it back in the gun? But then, that means your entire room would need to be 100% dust free, or else you would be also collecting dust, putting into a glitter gun and spraying it on the ceiling. Maybe there is no excess? Maybe it ALWAYS sticks, as long as the surface is tacky enough (see question below).
    • Does it go on flat ceilings? Or popcorn ceilings?
    • How do you ensure that the surface is all tacky? Do you spray paint fast with a spray gun canister thingie then quick quick quick get the glitter gun up and get the glitter on? Or, do you paint the ceiling with oil paint — which takes longer to dry and therefore is tacky longer — and then put up the glitter?
    • What happens if you screw up?

    This is a very intriguing product. I would love to figure out the answers to all these questions and maybe even try it — for the record — on a ceiling.

    As you can see, this ceiling glitter was made, most recently at least, by Zinsser. That’s the same company that today is famous for all kinds of wall preparation solutions. I believe they are owned by Rust-Oleum. Sure enough, when I googled a bit trying to look for ceiling glitter sold today, I only found examples from Zinsser, and all the listings that I found were sold out.

    Like I said, if you are in the market, you can buy the last remaining stock from Miller Art & Frame, Pittsfield, Mass. There is not much left, though.

    UPDATE: Reader Mark quickly identified another source of ceiling glitter and glitter guns available today. He wrote:

    Check this out: https://www.warehousebay.com/catalog/glitter-gun-glitter/?osCsid=3e5e07bd7512ee8f7e2966e396400f17

    Everything you need, both professional (pneumatic) & DIY (hand-crank) guns available, as well as glitter…

    Thank you, Mark!

    When were glitter ceilings introduced? 

    Some readers questioned whether this effect was truly “mid-century” — but we are pretty sure we have provenance back to the mid-1950s, at least. Mark says that his true storybook ranch, built in ’56-57, had glitter on the ceilings (befitting a “Cinderella!”) and Ranger Smith says the foyer of his ’61 ranch had glitter on the ceilings, too. I would guess-timate that glitter ceilings were fairly popular throughout the 1960s and even into the Liberace 1970s, but then interest faded. Even so, they seem to have been continually available.

    I NEEEEEEEEED a glitter ceiling!
    ceiling glitter

    The glitter chunks in my relatively-old Zinsser are pretty big – notably bigger than my crafty glitter. The label says that this ceiling glitter is all-aluminum.

    I may use my two containers for artsy fartsy crafty projects. More likely, I will keep them in my my museum-of-Pittsfield-hoard. My precious……

    Before they moved from North Street to their new (very googie) location on West Street, Miller’s carried a lot of wallpaper. After they moved, which is after I truly discovered them, I raided their basement for many rolls of their new old stock vintage wallpaper. I have installed several patterns in the house. I adore Miller Supply Co.

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    Comments

    1. I wanted to chime in on the ceiling glitter… My dad built the house I grew up in (mostly with his own hands — took 3 years), and one of the final touches when the house was finished in 1976 was a popcorn ceiling with glitter in the entire house. Most of the house was silver glitter, but the bedrooms had multicolor glitter. I vaguely remember workers coming in spraying on the popcorn and glitter with huge blower hoses. I was 9 years old when we moved into the house, and we kids thought the glitter ceiling was magic! Downside: for the first few months after moving in, we’d wake up with flecks of glitter on our faces.

      We never had major problems when the ceiling got dusty near the ceiling vents or cobwebs in the corners: a quick, gentle visit with round dusting brush on the vacuum hose took care of it!

      My sister redid the living room in her late 70s home a couple of years ago, including tearing out and replacing the ceiling. Yup, she did popcorn with glitter! Her husband used a glitter gun like the one John posted about above.

      Also, Pam, big thanks for the site! I’m now living in a vintage 1964 apartment in Atlanta that still has its original knotty pine kitchen—which I pretty much hated until I found this site. Maybe you should change your tagline to “Love the HOME you’re in,” since you’ve helped me really appreciate my apartment.

      • pam kueber says:

        :)

        I LOVE your story about waking up with glitter on your face! MAGICAL! I think that sounds like another UPSIDE!

        Hmmmm, yes, maybe I need to change the tagline. Nice to have ya hear commenting, Woody!

        • Dipsterdeb says:

          I was converting some basement closets in my parents home to a storage room and office to be close to Dad after my Mom passed, and decided to have some fun with it.

          I had seen an application on the side of a building that had a shimmery finish. Once by chance, while I was buying paint at the local paint store the man in line in front of me was actually buying this stuff. It was like an angel delivering an answer to a search that I had just about given up on. Well turns out that the store had a small bag of old store stock and I was able to buy it. After all, it was a closet that I was going to do.

          Unfortunately, I was not able to find any application “gun”. The guy at the desk told me I could use a squeeze bottle like the cheap plastic ketchup and mustard ones that you could take on a picnic. Well, that really didn’t work. What he did tell me was that you had to apply the stuff while the paint was wet or it wouldn’t stick.

          It was a tiny space so I used a roller to apply the paint, and ended up trying to apply the clear glitter flakes by hand with a damp paper towel. And yes, it was very messy. The ceiling was not in perfect condition to begin with and I don’t recommend this method of application because it is time consuming and the result is rather inconsistent, even with a good eye and some patience.

          All in all, I don’t regret trying it, as it was in a storage closet area, not a bedroom or large space, but I would probably try to find someone who might have some experience in this area next time. Clean up was not that big a deal because the floor was painted concrete. I couldn’t imagine trying to do this over any area with carpet, that’s for sure!

    2. You apply it to fresh paint on acoustic ceilings by putting in a squeeze bottle, to shoot out the glitter a little at a time, section by section. Practice, or a friend of mine that did it can give some pointers. He probably has amazing photos of his handiwork in one of the most significant MCM houses in Tucson, and would share them for your blog.

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