Craft How To: Gold Leafing

It’s cheap, easy and very addictive, Penelope Quinn shows us why gold leafing is the perfect way to transform old nick knacks and photo frames!

This old tin box has been a home for buttons, odds and ends and ribbons for as long as I can remember. The story goes my Grandmother bought it out on her passage from London in the 1950s, and it’s been hanging around the house ever since. It was probably a biscuit tin, but in any case, the original lacquer is long gone and the rusty finish doesn’t do the whimsical flower and cherub design any justice.

So armed with some gold imitation leaf, I’ve given this family heirloom a make over that makes it truly a treasure to keep!

The gold leaf can be a little tricky to handle, but the key is not to be too precious with your application and don’t be scared to use quite a few sheets.  Also, buy good quality glue that is specifically designed for leafing. I bought Ever Bright Gold Imitation Leaf - $40 for 100 sheets, and the X-Press it Gold Size glue for $7.50. Most craft stores should have something similar in stock.

1. First make sure it’s dry, and free of dust and dirt

2. Paint a single layer of adhesive glue over the entire item. It will be a milky colour, but will turn clear in around 5 or 10 minutes. It should be tacky, but not wet, to touch. If you put it on before it’s completely clear, it can affect your final finish.

3. There are many different ways to apply the leaf, but I found the method of using an entire sheet and carefully laying on the item, then start to work it into the item using your paintbrush.

A good tip is to use some wax paper to pick up the leaf – you’ll find once your fingers get sticky with glue it gets tricky to handle. If it’s easier, cut the gold leaf into smaller pieces.

4. Once you’ve covered your item, use another sheet to fill in the gaps. To give my tin a vintage look, I used a stiff brush to wear down the leaf in places so the rust underneath showed through.

5. Then, using a piece of wax paper, press down firmly to make sure all the leaf is secured.

6. Leave to set overnight. Once it’s completely dry, finish with some clear varnish. If you want a vintage look, give a coat of glaze.

This is a great technique to use on photo frames, Christmas decorations, candles – you can leaf just about anything!  Warning, it is addictive!!

Do you have any additional tips for handling gold leaf? I’d love to hear about it! Just leave a comment at the Ask a Question section or head to LifestyleHOME Facebook 

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