After adding the gold star to the top of my dining room Christmas tree, I felt like I needed a few gold ornaments to add some more shine and gold details that would tie in with the topper. Well, that’s an easy thing to make! Here is an easy tutorial showing how to apply gold leaf to ornaments.
What I love about gold leafing is that it elevates simple, humble materials. I’ve used this trick so many times on dated or boring frames and other home decor items to add a little bit of shine. I started with just some inexpensive ($.50/each) raw wood ornaments. With the addition of gold leaf, these ornaments look elegant and are just what the tree needed.
You could apply gold leaf to almost anything, though. Wood, ceramic, paper, cardboard, glass, and plastic will all work. This opens a whole world of options for elevating cheap, tired, or old ornaments that you might otherwise pitch.
gold leaf ornament tutorial | materials
- ornaments – wood, plastic, glass, metal, cardboard, or paper
- metal leaf (I use imitation gold leaf)
- adhesive size
- synthetic brush (1/2″ or so)
- soft, natural bristle mop brush
For this project, I use imitation gold leaf, but you can certainly use the real thing if you want to splurge. You only need two sheets per ornament, so it wouldn’t be overly expensive. I already had imitation gold leaf in abundance, so I used that. You could also use silver or copper leaf if that fits your aesthetic better.
The other key ingredient for this gold leaf ornament project is adhesive size made specifically for metal leaf. I have tried glue and it doesn’t do what you need it to do.
gold leaf ornament tutorial | steps
Brush the adhesive onto one side of the ornaments. If you’re working on something that is round, apply adhesive to the entire ornament and hang it to dry. The glue looks milky when applied and will dry clear. Allow the size to dry for about 15-20 minutes until it’s tacky to the touch and no longer wet in any spots. Dry times will vary depending on the material, humidity, and how thickly it’s applied.
Once the size is tacky to the touch, gently apply the sheets of metal leaf using the tissue that separates them.
Gently smooth the leaf with a natural, soft mop brush and buff off the excess leaf. It’s pretty magical how it happens and you can see it in action in the gold leaf ornament video tutorial below.
gold leaf ornament tutorial | video tutorial
Here is a short video tutorial showing the gold leaf ornament steps in action…
Since the ornaments don’t need to stamp up to wear like a piece of furniture, you do not have to apply any protective coat. if you want to tone down the gold, you can add an antiquing glaze. I would advise against using a wax, though. Generally, waxes have mineral spirits or some kind of solvent in them to soften the wax and that can remove the gold leaf when rubbed over it. I have found a water-based glaze works best. Since this is for Christmas, I left mine shiny!
Add a ribbon or piece of twine to hang and that’s it! It’s a quick and easy project that makes some very lovely, elegant ornaments or embellishments for the holidays.
You can find more Christmas decorating ideas, recipes, and crafts HERE.
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