Hey, fellow creatives! Get ready to add a touch of elegance and glamour to your art with my latest tutorial: “How to Apply Gold Leaf to Most Surfaces.” If you’ve ever wondered how artists achieve that mesmerizing metallic magic, you’re in for a treat.  In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you how easy it is to turn your canvas into a shimmering masterpiece. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a DIY enthusiast,  you can  elevate your art to a whole new level just by adding gold leaf.

How to Apply Gold Leaf to Most Surfaces!

An abstract art piece blending paint and added gold leaf.

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If you love gold, keep reading!

First, you’ll need to gather your materials.  This post contains a few affiliate links to help you find the products I use. You are not charged extra to use any of the links, but any income I make will be used for more fun DIY projects that I can share with you! So let’s get started!

MATERIALS:

STEPS TO APPLY GOLD LEAF TO ALMOST ANY SURFACE

  1. Clean the surface if needed
  2. Apply the adhesive
  3. Apply the gold leaf
  4. Remove excess gold leaf
  5. Seal the gold leaf

STEP 1:  CLEAN SURFACE

Before you begin, make sure your surface is clean and free of dust.   Any particles on the surface can stick to the gold leaf and ruin the finished product.  Today I am adding gold leafing to a painted canvas, so in this case, I just made sure no dust or loose particles were on my canvas.  For wood pieces, I would recommend a little TSP and water mixture, or maybe vinegar and water mixture.  For glass, I like to clean with just rubbing alcohol.

STEP 2:  APPLY ADHESIVE

Once your surface is clean, apply a thin layer of gold leaf adhesive using a brush. Be sure to apply the adhesive evenly and cover the entire area where you want to apply the gold leaf.   It looks milky in appearance when you first apply it, and then it turns clear as it becomes tacky. Wait about 30 minutes for it to dry.

Note: Drying time can vary a little depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment that you’re working in.   If the gold leaf is applied before the glue is tacky, it will not adhere. Carefully tap your finger on the surface after the adhesive has become clear to check if it has become tacky. This is the best way to know. Do not allow the glue to pool in areas. This will affect dry time as well.

STEP 3: APPLY GOLD LEAF

Once the adhesive is tacky, carefully pick up a sheet of gold leaf using your fingers or tweezers and gently lay it over the adhesive. I like to do this in small areas so that I have more control.    Use your fingers or soft cloth to gently smooth over the surface so that the metal leaf comes in full contact with the glue. When you’re working with an uneven surface, you will need to use additional sheets. Full coverage can be tricky, and subtle cracks are almost always viable. If you don’t get the coverage, you want the first try…no worries. Just apply more glue and gold leaf over those areas. It can be a little time consuming but so worth it!

STEP 4: REMOVE EXCESS GOLD LEAF

Once you’ve applied all of the gold leaf, use a soft brush (like a makeup brush) to gently remove any excess leaf that may be hanging off the edges. Be careful not to brush too hard, as this can damage the gold leaf and make it look scratched.

STEP 5:  SEAL GOLD LEAF

Finally, you can use a sealant to protect the gold leaf from tarnishing and give it a nice finish.  There are several types of sealants available, so be sure to choose one that is appropriate for your project.

For this art piece, I sealed with clear Wax by DIY. Again, you want to use a really soft brush or cloth to apply the wax.

Another type of sealer that I love using is  Old World Art.  I brush it on with a paint brush and allow it to dry before touching or moving the project.

Applying gold leaf can make even simple things look beautiful, but it can take a bit of practice to master.  (Just like most things, right?). Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t perfect – keep practicing!  I promise you’ll be glad you did!

If you’d like to see the full tutorial for this art piece, check out my monthly membership!

My membership (Creative Junkies) will teach you how to create art pieces and paint furniture using a variety of techniques and embellishing products. You’ll learn how to mix and match colors, use texture mediums, and more to create one-of-a-kind pieces that perfectly suit your taste.  Join now and let’s start making your home truly yours!

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