When it comes to applying metallic accents, we’ve all struggled with the options available. Metallic paints and pens may mimic some characteristics of real metal, but they often look washed out and fake compared to the real thing.
So, let’s use the real thing: metal leaf.
Metal or composition leaf is usually made of aluminum and zinc, and is the less expensive cousin of real gold or silver leaf. It has slightly different properties than the real thing, but when it comes right down to it, if you’re just doing a tiny bit on a piece, base metal will do. (Although, as I mention in the video below, if you have the means or the opportunity to work with real gold or real silver leaf, do so, because it’s lovely to work with.)
Here’s a bit of me, leafing the inside of some watch tins for a piece I was working on:
You’ll need the following to do a good leafing job:
- A book of metal leaf. Mona Lisa is probably the most popular brand, and it’s available in an array of colors on Amazon, and at Dick Blick.
- Gold leaf size, or metal leaf adhesive. Both go on as a liquid that isn’t very sticky, but sets up in about 30 minutes to be very, very sticky. In a pinch, I’ve used spray adhesive.
- A soft brush, and a stiffer bristle brush, for pressing the leaf down, and scraping away the loose bits.
- Sealer. The folks who make Mona Lisa leaf also make a sealer, which is shiny. I like to use water soluble sealers, so gloss medium, or Diamond Glaze are my choices.
- The lid of a shoe box, or a flat box without any foldy bits in the bottom or sides, to contain the leaf, and keep it from blowing around.