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Gold Leaf Tutorial

I was asked by Amy at The Lemon Cottage if I would do a tutorial on gold leafing. 
So, Amy, this one’s for you! 

I purchased an entire armload of large, dated frames at an auction for a quarter.  I was not quite sure what I was going to do with them at the time, but the auctioneer looked at me and almost pleaded me to take them off his hands.  These two frames were in that lot.

They are clearly 1960’s-70’s style frames and not at all my taste. They had an interesting texture that seemed like a great candidate for gold leafing. I’m showing you how to leaf a frame, but you can leaf almost anything. 
First of all, make sure your surface is clean.  Also, what’s underneath the leafing may peak through, so make sure it’s a color that you don’t mind seeing.  Red is a popular color to put under gold, but I decided to leave these frames white.  Brush a metal leaf adhesive onto your surface.  And allow it to dry for 30-60 minutes or until it’s clear and tacky.
You need a soft mop brush to apply your gold leaf.
This brand of (imitation) gold leaf is available at most craft stores for about $9.00 for 25 sheets.  You can also purchase silver and copper leaf.  One package is enough to cover at least 2 large frames.

 There are all sorts of methods out there for getting your gold leaf out of the book and onto your surface.  You can use the static cling on your brush to pull the sheet off and lots of other things.  I just slip it off onto my hand and gently transfer it.  I feel like I have more control over it. 

The frame I am working on is about 3 inches wide, but if I was working on a narrower frame, I would cut the gold leaf sheets in half while they were still in the book.  That would greatly reduce any waste.  Once the gold leaf is on your surface, take your brush and light smooth the sheet down. 
Now, don’t start to panic.  You’re going to have all kinds of little wrinkles and if you’re working on a textured surface, you’ll have a lot of cracks in the leaf.  This is normal and you’re not doing anything wrong.  If you’re working on a flat surface, this won’t be as much of a problem.
Leafing always looks like a mess when you first put it on.  I like to pull off larger “scraps” and stick them onto bare spots.  So, once the surface is fully covered, gently rub your brush over the leaf, removing all of the pieces that are not glued down.  At this point, your work area will look like Tinker Bell exploded all over the place.  Leafing is very messy, so have a vacuum at the ready. 
This is how it looks after all of the excess is brushed away.
See how there are some spots where the leaf didn’t stick.  I’m not worried about these, since I’m going to antique this frame.  If you want your surface to be perfect, brush more adhesive on the bare spots and repeat the process.
Since the backside of this frame would only be seen from an extreme angle, I painted it with gold acrylic paint. 
Once the gold leaf and paint were fully dry, I brushed on some Minwax dark walnut stain and wiped it off with a soft cloth.  This calms down the “brassiness” of the gold leaf and makes it look softer and older. 

I cut my own mat using my new mat cutter and framed a $2.00 thrift store antique bird/botanical print.  I then had a $3.98 sheet of glass cut at my local glass shop.  So, this entire project cost less than $10.00. 

Remember that the Furniture Feature Friday link party runs through Saturday at midnight, so you can still join in.  Happy leafing!
Miss Mustard Seed
I’m linking up to Frugalicious Friday over at Finding Fabulous, Thrifty Decor Chick’s Before & After Party, Met Monday, Make It For Monday, and Make Your Monday.  Whew!  Glad I don’t have to buy a hostess gift for everyone. 

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  1. What a sweet picture!! I just love old prints like that~ I wish I had a whole wall of them.
    That was an excellent tutorial on gold leafing- I had no idea there was 'immitation' product, so I have always avoided crafts like this due to the cost. I will keep me eyes out for the materials, now!! Thanks!

  2. This is really neat- I'll have to give it a try. You've mentioned your mat cutter before- my mom is looking for one. What brand is your mat cutter and where did you find it? My mom's birthday is coming up…. :) Love your blog!

  3. Oooh, love that! I've yet to try gold/silver/copper leaf yet :)

  4. I am so going to try this out! Thanks for the tutorial!!!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial! I have never tried this, but I want to now! I like that you put gold acrylic on the back, very smart!

  6. Beautiful! I'm going to challenge myself to try this sometime!

  7. Wow! That turned out so well. Lovely.

  8. Not only did the picture turn out beautiful, but it looks so high end! You did a fab job. What a great tutorial too. I can't wait to gold leaf some night stands. This is definitely going to come in handy.

  9. Great job on your picture and frame. I have done gold leaf before and it is fun! Love & blessings from NC!

  10. Thanks for the tutorial! It looks amazing! I love the print, too. I had no idea it was so inexpensive to cut glass, I have a few frames that need it! Now I'm not so scared. :-)

  11. The tutorial is perfect. I have done gold and copper leaf. In fact, I copper leafed an entire wall. It turned out really cool too!!

  12. It's beautiful! You've inspired me to try that on frame. I'm working on a collage of several frames for a jewelry display. The gold leave may be just the bling I was looking for.

  13. Your frame turned out great! And thanks for the tutorial. I am thinking about silver leafing a lamp base soon.

  14. Hooray! I think I can, I think I can… :)
    As soon as tax season is over, and I'm back to being a SAHM, I'm going to tackle this.
    Thanks so much for posting!

    Your frame is gorgeous. (like everything you do!)


  15. Great tutorial. I love the way it looks all finished. Just gorgeous and such a pretty print too. Hugs, Marty

  16. Thanks for showing how this is done. I have been toying with the idea of silver leafing a pedestal I picked up at the Goodwill but haven't got around to it. Looks like I can handle it!!

  17. Thank you so much for the step by step instructions. I've thought about doing this before, but it seemed a little intimidating to a "non" crafter like myself. With your great instructions I think I could manage this one.

    I love the finished picture and it looks like an expensive antique find!

    Kat :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    You're so funny: "Tinkerbell exploded all over the place" LOL!!!

  19. What a transformation! And I just added your Etsy shop to my favorites!!! :)

  20. Fabulous! I love it that you are sharing your skills…. and helping some of us less skilled.

  21. Great tutorial! I have never tried this, but now I know how. Thanks!

  22. Oh yeah, that's what I am talking about. I love the look of leafing(?) with various metals. I also love that golds are coming back into the groove again.

    This will definitely make it on the list of projects.

    Thank you for posting a tut, it's not nearly as intimidating to me now.

  23. Is there anything you can't do? I want to try this some day so thanks so much for the tutorial! It turned out great.

  24. I love this! I have always wanted to try gold leaf and never have.

    You have given me some courate to give it a go!

    Love the print too!

    Lou Cinda :)

  25. I've been tempted to try leafing something, but never do. Maybe this week! Lovely frame. Thanks for sharing.

  26. hahaha…cracking up over your description of tinkerbelle exploding all over the place! thanks for the tips, I've never done this and always wondered if it was very hard. The frames are gorgeous now.

  27. Love the tutorial! Have you tried the spray on adhesive? I haven't used the brush on yet.

    The frame looks gorgeous!

    LOL @ tinkerbell exploding! So true!


  28. Thanks for the instructions–I’m headed to the store to get my supplies now.

  29. Thanks for the information! I I really want to try this , Gold leafing is always my favorite, Its can make any stuff beautiful & attractive.

  30. used your guidelines on a 70’s mirror…no including drying times it took about two hours…trying to get closer to the real antique finish on a pair of giant wooden candlesticks we bought in Italy…Thanks for your tutorial!

  31. Lindy Smith says:

    Clever you for seeing the potential of the frames and a really great tutorial. Thanks.

  32. I love your tutorial and would like to link it over to a post on our website. Would you mind? We are just starting our blog. It is a joint effort of my daughter and I.
    Thank you,

    Shirley (


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