A few months ago, I found the most perfect horse paint-by-number at one of my local thrift shops. However, no matter how perfect the paint-by-number, the frame was horrifying! I knew something would have to be done to it, and I’ve been contemplating my approach. Enter some gray paint and about four sheets of silver leaf and we have a spiffy piece of artwork on our hands! You may have preconceived notions about silver leaf being glamorous or fancy and not the right look for your project, but I hope you will see that leafing can be adapted to any project with great results. It’s all about how little or how much you use and where you place it on your piece. Today on Before & After Basics, I hope to start a love affair between you and silver leafing! Ready? — Barb
CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!
- sanding sponge
- wax paper
- silver leaf
- silver leaf adhesive
- spray paint
- drop cloth
1. For this project, I painted the frame gray rather than leaving it wood because it had no character on its own, and because I wanted the paint to show through. If you would like to paint the frame, feel free to do so! Make sure that your surface is clean and free of dirt and dust before you begin with the silver leaf.
2. Apply a thin coat of liquid adhesive to the frame. The adhesive is very thin and watery, so it is easy to apply too much. Make sure there are no “puddles;” you want it to be nice and smooth. If you do not want to cover the whole surface, just apply the adhesive where you want the silver leaf to go. One suggestion here: make sure that wherever you put adhesive, you put silver leaf. Otherwise your surface will remain tacky — so not good! Let the adhesive set for 30 to 60 minutes to get nice and tacky.
3. After letting the adhesive set, start applying your silver leaf. Take a piece of wax paper and lay it over the top of the silver leaf sheet, “ironing” over the top of the wax paper with your hand. This makes the silver leaf stick to the wax paper, which makes application much easier. I have done this both ways, with and without wax paper, and the wax paper definitely makes it easier to apply. The wax paper keeps the silver leaf from tearing because of the moisture from your hands. Place your paper silver-leaf-side down on the area where you have applied the adhesive and rub gently.
4. Dust away the excess. Now here is where I go a little crazy with the directions! Typically the directions will tell you to use a soft brush or cloth to remove the edges, but I would rather get my fingers in there and rub like crazy! I am a lover of texture and layers in finishes, and I love to add little bits and pieces for a more distressed look. If you prefer a perfectly smooth look though, do use a soft brush or cloth.
5. Once you have applied all of the silver leaf the way you want it, take a sanding sponge and lightly sand any areas that you would like to blend or make a little more authentic.
6. For a fantastic aged look, apply a dark stain over the silver leaf. I like to apply it with a rag. The stain not only works for aging the silver leaf, but it also acts as a sealer. I personally prefer applying stain over silver leaf to add dimension. This is an optional step, and is totally dependent on your preference.