diy project: silver leaf botanical tray


I love using trays in our house. A tray has the wonderful ability to confine a grouping of otherwise disorderly items and make them seem neat and organized. To refresh a tired old tray, I used an age-old mirror-making technique to silver leaf a piece of glass. To modernize it a bit, I added a graphic botanical silhouette in a deeper metallic hue. Enjoy! — Brenna (paper & ink)

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CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Materials

  • tray (I found mine at a thrift store)
  • glass cut to fit inside the tray
  • botanical image
  • contact paper
  • X-Acto knife
  • tape
  • pewter spray paint
  • book of silver leaf
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • paintbrush

Instructions

1. Spray-paint your tray if you need to.

2. Cover clean glass with the contact paper. Try to apply it as flat as possible. Don’t worry about bubbles; they will come out later.

3. Lay the botanical image over the contact paper, and use tape to secure where you’d like it to be. Keep in mind that it will be reversed once the glass is set in the tray.

4. Using the X-Acto knife, cut the outline of the image through the paper and the contact paper.

5. Once you are done cutting around the entire image, remove the paper. Remove the positive image from the contact paper. You will be left with contact paper covering most of the tray and just the botanical image removed to expose the glass. Now make sure that any large bubbles are away from the open area of the glass.

6. Using the pewter spray paint, lightly spray the area of exposed glass. If it is sprayed too heavily, the paint will come off with the contact paper. Let the paint dry until tacky, and slowly remove the contact paper. You will be left with a botanical silhouette in pewter. Let dry completely.

7. To silver the tray, start by melting the gelatin in 1 cup of hot water. Make certain that the gelatin is completely melted, heating the water further if necessary.

8. Start at a top corner on the painted side of the glass. Use the paintbrush to liberally apply the gelatin water mixture in a square the size of the sheet of silver leaf.

9. Using the paper booklet as a support for the sheet of silver leaf, gently slide the silver off of the booklet about ½ inch. Touch the top of the sheet to the top of the glass and pull your hand down and away to allow the silver leaf to stick to the glass. Tilt the glass to allow the wrinkles to fall out.

Note: To redo a silver square, simply wipe the square off of the glass and start again. Continue covering the glass and allow to dry an hour before touching up, and overnight before inserting it into the tray.

10. Once it is dry, place the glass in the tray. If the tray is uneven or rough, it could scratch the silver off, so consider placing the glass on a piece of felt or cardboard to protect it.

11. You are done!

  1. Michelle says:

    Great project idea! La d’ore makes Designasize brush on metal leaf adhesive which would also work well for this project. It’s around $5 at most craft stores

  2. Nina says:

    beautiful. thanks for sharing

  3. Megan says:

    Such and elegant tray! I love it! Thanks for sharing!

  4. so cool. ummm bookmarked it for something to try. thanks.

  5. Heather says:

    Love it! Well done. I also love trays, but don’t have one so beautiful…

  6. I love this. The leaf image reminds me of a late afternoon shadow.

  7. This is a super fun idea. Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Please Note says:

    This is beautiful! What a great Mother’s Day gift idea.

  9. Great project, thanks for sharing!

  10. Thanks for sharing this. I really like this project.

  11. This makes Designasize brush on metal leaf adhesive which would also work well for this project.

  12. homestilo says:

    I have been looking for a silver/gold leaf project for a while. This may be it! Thanks.

  13. What a lovely project. I think this turned out beautifully ;)

  14. brenna says:

    hi all,
    thank you for the compliments! i just want to discourage the use of sizing with this project. sizing is fantastic for projects in which the metal leaf is adhered to the outside of an object. for this project, the silver leaf is adhered to the glass, then, the guilded side is put down in the tray so the silver leaf is seen through the glass. the reason gelatin is used is… 1. it is virtually clear, and 2. it provides a watery layer for the silver leaf to float upon as completely flat as possible, eliminating wrinkles and therefore providing a mirror like finish from the opposite side. once the water and gelatin dry, the silver leaf sticks closely to the glass… think old school decal… the kind that has to be soaked.

    sizing has a slightly cloudy effect, and is very difficult to and entire sheet of leaf to lay completely flat.
    good luck.
    -brenna

  15. Mott Corner says:

    This is a confusing explanation of the project. You lose me at step 8. Maybe more pictures would have helped?

  16. Mae says:

    Really creative and you drew the plant image too. I’m thinking this can do well on my grandma’s home :D Thanks!

  17. Claire says:

    I’m planning to try this this weekend. I love the black leaf image on the silver leaf. did you use black spray paint or the pewter paint in the instructions to create this?

  18. Suh Goulart says:

    Adorei a dica!
    Outra idéia seria utilizar papel adesivo! Usar o molde de planta já no papel adesivo!

    Beijos
    Suh

  19. crowdSPRING says:

    Really Nice Post!!! Really creative and you drew the plant image too. I’m thinking this can do well on my grandma’s home…Thanks for this lovely post.

  20. . it provides a watery layer for the silver leaf to float upon as completely flat as possible, eliminating wrinkles and therefore providing a mirror like finish from the opposite side. once the water and gelatin dry, the silver leaf sticks closely to the glass… think old school decal… the kind that has to be soaked.

  21. I’m planning to try this this weekend. I love the black leaf image on the silver leaf. did you use black spray paint or the pewter paint in the instructions to create this?

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