I recently discovered the ease of gold and silver leafing. For so long I thought it was a finish left only to the gifted trade. Until when at my old company, someone showed me how easy was to leaf practically anything. It still has taken me several years attempt the process myself. I also always expected it to be extremely expensive.
After a little research I discovered, it's really not that expensive if you go with the combination leafs. You can use real gold and real silver for your special or smaller items which will not set you too far back, or if you're interested in covering large surfaces I suggest going with the imitation gold and silver routes. You will hardly see the difference with the end result if you properly apply the leaf and do a few additional steps.
In this post, I'm also adding a step by step tutorial for some horseshoes I recently leafed for a bridal shower I hosted. Gold horseshoes sound like such a luxury and they would be, if you were including the cost of my time.
Supplies: I purchased the gold leaf on Amazon.com, there are a number of companies that sell various finishes and if you're a lucky Prime member you can get free shipping through a few of the sellers.
- The real gold leaf can be found through Gold 24K [here] at about $.40 per sheet. This is also edible and can be used in cooking, desserts or if you're REAL fancy in champagne... I've heard about a bar in the Meatpacking District that sells gold laced Dom Perignon - you could be so exuberant for a party if you'd like. Or you can purchase imitation gold leaf at the economy rate of $.11 per sheet through L.A. Gold Leaf [here] or the easiest packed form through Speedball at $.30 per sheet [here] - the positive to Speedball is that it's the easiest to use and qualifies for Prime. *Please note: the imitation leafs are not edible.
- In addition to the leaf itself you'll also need to purchase an adhesive. I bought the Speedball brand adhesive [here] for $30 for 32 oz for a large project and the 2 oz is also available for smaller projects. There are other brands that when wet are blue and turn clear when ready for the leaf - those are available at art stores and may be pricier. Not really sure.
- You'll also need a soft brush or sponge brush.
- Lastly, if you're leafing on a surface that is porous, you'll need a sealer. Which should be your first step.
The first few steps that I needed to take with the were to clean the horse shoes. After scrubbing by hand, my father discovered that you can attach a scrub brush to a screw driver and it certainly works like a charm. However, you must be careful and you must wear safety goggles and gloves for protection.
Since the horseshoes have a thin surface area, I cut the sheets down to a more manageable size.
First step, you brush the adhesive onto the object being leafed and let it sit until tacky. Some adhesives are ready in 15 - 20 mins, others take an hour and it will remain tacky for for up to 24 hours.
Next, apply the gold leaf, it is easiest to use wax paper or to use the sheets that are placed between the leaf. The leaf it is so thin and light weight that it sticks to your hands.
Use a soft brush to adhere the leaf to the object. Continue these steps until the entire piece is leafed. If you overlap the leaf, that is fine, it will just brush off.
Once leafing is complete there are a few options that you can do to finish the process. As you can see in the below photos the gold is not quite rich enough, I think it is too shiny and needs a bit of age to tone it down.
The quickest to way to achieve this look is to rub a dark wood stain over top and wipe off the excess. Not only will it bring out the richness in the gold color, it will help seal the gold onto the object. One more coat of shellac may be an additional sealant.
I used these horse shoes as favors for the bridal shower I hosted. Other than just being fun and attractive, they can also look great hanging on a door, all that you need is a thin ribbon to weave through the nail holes and viola! A pretty, lucky, horseshoe for your entrance.
I hope this was fun and that you'll try to do it yourself. As always, thanks for reading!