My inner glam girl comes out when I spy gold leaf! Whether on furniture or home decor, I am drawn to the shiny brilliance as soon as I enter a room. Applying gold leaf to furniture was one of the first techniques I tried as a newbie furniture painter. Initially I was apprehensive — it looked difficult! But with the right products and a few helpful hints, it’s an easy way to dress up your chalk painted projects.
- Dixie Belle chalk paint
- Gold Leaf sheets
- Speedball Mona Lisa Adhesive Size
- Speedball Mona Lisa Metal Leaf Sealer
- Inexpensive artist brush
- Inexpensive powder or blush brush
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Picking Your Project
I have applied gold leaf to jewelry boxes, picture frames and furniture. It adds visual interest to flat surfaces and accentuates details. One of my favorite techniques is to apply gold leaf to decor molds where it settles into the nooks and crannies. For more information on furniture molds, please see my blog How to Makeover Furniture Using Decor Molds.
While gold leaf looks elegant over white chalk paint, I love how dark paints such as Dixie Belle’s Caviar, Midnight Sky and Aubergine appear through the cracks of the leafing. You’ll want an area that is easy to sweep or vacuum for your project. I opted to try this in our living room and was vacuuming gold leaf out of my carpet for months!
The Application Process
I was surprised to discover that Gold leaf is very affordable — of course, we are not talking about real gold! I prefer 5″x5″ squares — they are versatile for both large and small projects.
The first step is to apply an adhesive such as Speedball Adhesive Size which is specifically formulated for metal leaf. Decide where you would like your gold leaf and apply a thin coat of adhesive. For small areas, I use an inexpensive artist’s brush. While it cleans up with soap and water, the adhesive can build up in your brush and I often toss mine after use. When the adhesive turns clear and feels tacky to the touch, you are ready for the next step.
The first time I applied gold leaf, my fingers got so sticky that I was a true “Golden Girl” by the time I finished! How to avoid this fate? Pick up and apply your leafing with the tissue paper that comes between each sheet. After application, I use a soft makeup brush to smooth over the leaf and whisk away excess.
I like a ragged, organic look to my gold leaf and encourage this by applying the glue randomly and allowing pieces to tear away as I brush. If you prefer a smooth look, you will want to apply your adhesive evenly and lay each leaf flat to reduce wrinkles.
To maintain the luster of your gold leaf, seal with a product that is specifically designed for metal leaf such as Speedball Sealer. This formulation prevents discoloration that may occur with other water based sealers. Again, I use an inexpensive artist’s brush to apply. If you need a water resistant surface, you can apply Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide as a second coat over the metal leaf sealer.