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Decorate Furniture With Copper, Gold Or Silver Leaf

Using copper-gold or silver leaf on furniture is a fun way to bring shimmer and glam to ordinary furniture - on a budget.



Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved shiny, sparkly things. I used to have a huge collection of Swarovski ornaments that were stolen and more than a few sparkly items of jewellery. Even though I'm all grown up (!) I still have a love of shiny and glittery and sometimes just have to control my crafty urges.

As a fan of luxe and glam, I have a fondness copper, silver and gold leaf and went through a phase that I would apply these to picture frames and use metallic gilding paste on many items. Remember when patina was a popular trend, or making items look like they had rusted over the year. While some of these crafts have faded by the wayside, applying leaf to furniture is still a popular trend and a great way to transform ordinary pieces of furniture into expensive-looking pieces.









While the popularity of metallic accessories might be fading out, this is not about trends and more about what you like and what looks good. Take a look at some of the gilded furniture below and then pop online to find a supplier of imitation copper, gold, silver and even pewter leaf, and I know that Builders Warehouse stock the Dala gold leaf that costs around R75 for a pack of 25 sheets and a few bottles of size (adhesive) and get crafting!



What is Copper, Gold, Silver or Pewter Leaf?

Traditional metal leaf involves hammering the metal into very, very thin sheets that are known as leaf. Where real gold or silver are used this can be expensive to purchase but these days there are plenty of imitation metal leaf that can be purchased to apply to decor accessories and furniture.







Leaf is used in conjunction with leaf size, which is the adhesive used to apply the leaf onto whatever piece you are gilding. It's a pretty simple process that leaves a lasting result.


How to Apply Gold or Silver Leaf to Furniture

Applying any type of leaf to furniture is a very easy project. You will need a selection of soft brushes, pair of tweezers and the metal leaf you are using. It's also a good idea to put down a drop cloth and do this indoors, as even a small breeze can send metal leaf flying away. Below are the basic steps for applying any type of metal leaf to furniture or decor accessories and you will also find a helpful video below.


Step 1

Apply the size (adhesive) over the area to be covered. It is always better to work on a small area at a time so that the size doesn't dry too fast. You can also build up layers better this way if you want heavier coverage.


Step 2

Metal leaf is extremely thin and fragile and it helps to use a pair of tweezers to pick up the leaf from the backing paper and place this over the areas covered with size. Make sure to cover the entire area keeping in mind that you can always apply more leaf to fill up blank space but do this quickly before the size dries.


Step 3

Once the leaf is placed on the size, use a soft brush to gently brush over the surface. This will ensure the leaf adheres to the size and will also remove any excess leaf that is not stuck down. I like to use a plastic dustpan to catch the excess leaf so that I can use this again on my project.



After applying the leaf, rub over the surface with a soft brush to ensure it is well stuck down. Once the size has dried you can use a soft cloth to polish the finish.



You can use the gilding process to apply metal leaf to small areas on a piece of furniture or to the entire piece and also to handles and knobs and raised detailing on vintage or antique furniture.



By using a combination of gold or silver leaf and gilding paste, you can create various paint effects on ordinary or vintage furniture. Gilding paste is another one of my favourites for adding a metallic touch to picture frames and decor accessories.







 Unlike metal leaf that comes in thin sheets, gilding paste is a paste containing metal flakes in gold, silver, pewter, copper and bronze that are applied to furniture with a soft cloth and then polished to a metallic sheen. Gilding paste is easy to apply to metal handles, decorative detailing and even flat surface where it can be smudged.


If you love distressed furniture or ageing furniture, it is so easy to use metal leaf to distress and age furniture rather than paint. Using metal leaf gives any piece of furniture glam appeal.


Add a luxe finish to your chalk paint projects by adding a distressed look with gold or silver leaf.


Another way to use metal leaf is to bring out the detailing on furniture and decor accessories. The most popular method for using this to bring out the best detail is on picture frames, in particular, ornate picture frames that include a lot of detail. Even imitation gold, silver or copper leaf brings shimmering highlights to a dull frame. Yes, you could use metallic paint or spray paint but these don't give quite the same effect and lustre as metal lea.



Make ornate picture frames easily. Find a plain mirror frame. Build layers of pine moulding strips and polystyrene cornice and crown moulding - all of which you will find at a Builder store near you.





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