Adding a little gold leaf to your painted furniture does so much. A little flair, some sparkle, a surprise, calling out a detail. Barbara and I talk about gold leaf, how it works, where to use it and tips for color.
Gold Leaf On Furniture
Adding gold leaf to furniture is a lovely touch to elevate the design. You’ll find it on traditional designs but I love to see it as a wabi sabi flash of color in a more modern style design. I’m dying to make a waterfall table with a splash of gold for a foyer! Here are some more examples:
- Use it to call out a detail on a table, like a carved or fluted area.
- We’ll add a pinstripe of gold leaf to a desktop or chest of drawers.
- Dip the feet of a table in gold to draw the eye to unexpected details.
- Or go crazy and gild the whole piece!
Or go crazy and gild the full piece like we did with these bookends. They’re a nice bit of sparkle on the shelf. A fully gilded piece would be transformed into a beautiful sculpture in a foyer or hall.
Color and Adjustments
Gold looks so different depending on the interior design. It comes in so many different colors which changes because of the mix of metals. For example, pure gold is nice and warm. Lots of silver in the mix creates more of a champagne color.
The other way to change the color is with an overglaze. Use a shellac to warm it up. Or a really sheer tinted glaze that will push the color where you want it to go: warmer or greener, or antiqued.
Gold Leaf Material
Gold leaf comes in a variety of mixes. The higher the karat, the more gold is in the leaf. The lower the karat gold have a mix of metals in there to change the value as well as the color. So the lower karat golds are usually less expensive.
Real gold leaf comes in the smaller, 3″ squares. It has a range of 9 karat to 24 karat.
There is also something called Dutch Metal, or imitation leaf. It’s a different mix of metals that doesn’t have as much real gold in it. Its’s less expensive and comes in larger 5″ squares.
Loose vs. Patent
Gold leaf comes in about 25 page books. Each thin slice of gold is layered between pieces of tissue. Loose leaf is placed lightly in the book. Use a gilders tip (which looks like a paint brush) to pull the leaf away from the book with static electricity.
Patent leaf is easier to work with. The leaves of gold are stuck to the book slightly so they don’t fly around and you don’t need to use a gilders tip to apply it. Simply open the book to the gold and rub it onto the sized area you want to leaf.
Gold Leaf How To
We’re gilding these little cast plaster bookends. They have a ton of nooks and crannies that we’re going to see more once the gold leaf is applied.
- Start by painting the area to be gilded with sizing. It’s like a glue. We use 2 coats to make sure we’re getting full coverage. Make sure to apply it very thinly. Clumpy or too thick size application will make a lumpy gilded finish. Think about what brush you’re using to apply the gold leaf. The brush strokes will show. So use a soft brush if you want something less visible and more refined. Today we’re just using a chip brush because the brush strokes will only add to the interest. Allow to dry until it’s just tacky to your knuckle.
- Apply leaf of your choice. Allow this to dry 1 hour to fully adhere.
- Brush off skewings, those little flaky bits that aren’t glued down.
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Stop over to say hello, ask a question or find out fun ways to elevate your interior design project! We’re showing you how to embrace #livingmybestlife #entertainingathome and #surroundyourselfwithart