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How to Easily Gold Gild Using Liquid Leaf

Hello Friends,

Liquid Leaf is my new BFF. I know! It’s so out of my norm, but let me tell you what happened.

See the pink, gold (via Liquid Leaf), and distressed finish on this book? It’s what I call “a happy accident.”

How to Easily Gold Gild Using Liquid Leaf

This post is in collaboration with Plaid Products and Poppies Paint Powder, but all projects and opinions are 100% my own. Affiliate links are added for your convenience. A purchase generates a small commission at no cost to you.

Liquid Leaf vs Gold Leaf – What’s the Difference?

Since Gold Leaf (trademark name) is kind of the standard bearer that all other gilding items are measured against, let’s start by explaining Gold Leaf. Gold Leaf is a gilding product that comes in super-thin sheets and is glued onto an item. Then the sheet crumbles and the pieces of the sheet that don’t stick to the glue flake away. Yep, the DIY portion is a mess, but the result is oh so beautiful and oh so elegant. And to its credit, Gold Leaf was kind of the first to grab the gilding gold market. Nowadays, there are many similar products. For example, Martha Stewart calls her gold sheets Decoupage Gilding Sheets (trademark name). But still, compared to other kinds of products that are now available, the sheets remain a bit harder to use.

Liquid Leaf is a quick and easy product to use for gilding accessories | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

Choosing the Right Product

Other than gilding sheets, there are also a gazillion gilding paints, waxes, glazes, and buffs. And quite frankly, they are all good, but will yield a different result. The product explained in this post, called Liquid Leaf, comes in a bottle about the size of nail polish, is easily applied with a little artist brush, and will cover like crazy. 

So how do we know which one is right for our project?  Of course, I suggest that you research before you buy and try the product on a sample piece. I know! That’s the pits, but is the honest truth. Go through Pinterest with a vengeance and then try out the product you think is the best for your project. There’s a ton a great info out there. In fact, to make it easier, I’ll add some of my favorite links at the bottom of this post.

Liquid Leaf – Let’s Get Started

So this little DIY came to be when I needed some wall shelves to hold a few pieces of blue and white. Naturally, I had a good sampling of outdated shelves in my stash. So I laid out these four oldies, but goodies and arranged and rearranged until a grouping fell into place. Then, I moved on to Step One.

Step 1 – Prep the Pieces

  • Clean each piece with TSP or Simple Green.

  • Wipe away all residue with a clean cloth according to the manufacturer’s directions.

  • Lightly sand with 240-grit sandpaper.

  • Wipe away all dust with a tack cloth.

BEFORE: Outdated shelves before updating with Liquid Leaf | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

The Basecoat 

It’s always good to have a practice piece handy for testing the base color and here’s why.

In all of my experience painting furniture and accessories, I’ve never seen a product (Liquid Leaf) make such a difference in the look of the final product. And I don’t say this in a bad way. I actually love the look very much, but did have to go through a learning curve with color combinations.

For example, the black with the gold paint looked rather flat and cold. Other paints were too pale and seemed to wash out when the gold was applied. It wasn’t until I used this very strong pink that the combo moved in the right direction for my project.

This doesn’t mean that bold, highly saturated colors are always the way to go, but it should flag your plan so that you consider and try the combo before committing the color to the project.

For this project, I used regular latex paint and converted it to a chalky-type paint by adding an additive called Poppies Paint Powder. To learn more about Poppies Paint Powder, a link to a product review post on this blog is at the bottom of this post.

Step 2 – Apply the Basecoat

  • One coat of the chalky-type paint was applied.

  • When the basecoat was completely dry, Liquid Leaf was applied in a random pattern because I wanted the basecoat to show through.

The photo below shows the two-step process. Bottom left, the black shelf, then the basecoat application (the bright pink shelf), and (at top) the Liquid Leaf over the basecoat.

DURING: Shelves in 3 different stages of gilding using Liquid Leaf | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

The Happy Accident

And finally, we arrive to the “happy accident” part of the story. So after applying the Liquid Leaf, I felt like the finish still needed a little more depth of color. I was looking to add some aging or to create a patina. But since the hubs was home to help me get them hung, I moved ahead thinking I could circle back to the final finish later.

So I was off to make the hanging template.  To make a template marking the holes on each shelf, the pieces were flipped over and taped. When I ripped away the tape, I noticed an amazing patina. WHAAAT??? The tape had pulled away flakes of pink paint and/or flakes of gold paint to create such a natural-looking layered effect. It sort of looked like Gold Leaf —well —in reverse.

But still, it was close enough and oh so easy!

And well—- you know what happened next!

Step 3 – Creating the Patina

  • Yep, the pieces were flipped over and masking tape was stuck and ripped away —here and there and everywhere.

  • If I rubbed the tape with my thumb, there was a slight flaking patina formed when the tape was removed.

  • If I burnished the tape with a tool, a significant flaking patina formed –meaning more gold and pink paint was removed.

It was SO great to have total control over how much patina was created and zero flaking mess. The more I worked with the tape, the more the shelves took on a naturally aged look.

DURING: Guilding with Liquid Leaf is easy and creates natural looking results | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

In the photo below, the first pass of lightly sticking masking tape resulted in a very light flaking (photo left) compared to the piece without any distressing (photo right).

Two samples: Slightly flaking patina on the left and none on the right | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

The Party Pooper

After a little while, I was really rocking the masking tape and courageously laying on super heavy patina in some places.

And, can I just say how much I love this book?? I mean seriously. Yowzers!  I will be Liquid Leafing ALL. THE. BOOKS!! Oh yeppers, I surely will.

But, I digress.

If you notice, the shelf sconce (photo below) has zero patina. This is the party pooper. It is made of some kind of composite plastic material and no matter how hard I tried, it would not flake. I even burnished the paint using DUCT TAPE!  Oh heaven help, but I did. And still. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

This is shared to let you know that, for whatever reason, some surfaces may not respond. I don’t know what happened here, but can tell you that I ended up lightly sanding the shelf in a few spots to give it a bit of distressing. But in the end, it didn’t matter since the collection varied in how much they were distressed. This helped the party pooper fit right in. 

The shelf that refused to flake. Learn why on the blog | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

And happily, the other two shelves more than made up for the party pooper.

AFTER: A perfectly gilded and aged shelf using Liquid Leaf | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

A Masking Tape Must

But I do want to stress that sanding will NOT yield the same result as using the tape-and-pull technique. There is no fake flake look when sandpaper is used. Sandpaper will produce a worn look in strokes, which is also good, but different. For the fake flake look, we have to use tape.

AFTER: Lean how to achieve this flakey gilded look with Liquid Leaf | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

And, as always, that’s all there is to it.

Gold gilding is made easy with Liquid Leaf and this simple technique | #spon #Plaid #LiquidLeaf #PoppiesPaintPowder | www.thechelseaproject.com

This is another project in the dining room makeover for the Fall One Room Challenge. Today’s post is simply about how-to achieve this look. I hope you will join me as the six weeks of official ORC posts (including the final reveal) get underway.

Join Me for the One Room Challenge

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Resource List

  • TSP, Simple green, or other cleaner

  • Soft, clean rags

  • 240-grit sandpaper (maybe)

  • Tack cloth

  • Favorite paint and brush

  • Liquid Leaf

  • Artist brush

  • Masking tape (or favorite tape)


Favorite Links

To learn more about Poppies Paint Powder from a review on this blog, please click here.

Liquid Leaf, which comes in several colors, can be purchased on Amazon or at various craft stores for around $10.

For links to outside blogs, please click here for an overview of products, or here to see Gold Leaf sheets applied around a mirror.

And if you appreciate today’s post, please …









  • Reply Heather K Tracy September 28, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Susie, this is one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that’ posts! You rocked this – and I’ll be reaching for the masking tape when using my Liquid Leaf.

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 29, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Thanks Tracy! You are such a blessing to me.

  • Reply Marie September 29, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Oh wow and another wow, Susie – LOVE the patina! I’ve used silver liquid leaf and loved it but the gold leaf paired with the pink – mahvelous dahling! Genius discovery and I’ve pinned to my Paint Techniques Board AND added to my Must Try List. You rocked it and I’m even more excited to see your dining room.

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 29, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Thanks Marie! I am totally in love with Liquid Leaf now! And will give the Liquid Leaf silver a try as well. Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging comments. You bless my soul.

  • Reply Brianna October 1, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for the mention! Love the pink and gold leaf mix. Looks lovely!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 2, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Hi Brianna. My pleasure. Love the info you provided.

  • Reply Nancy October 2, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    This looks so great Susie! I love the happy accident. Beautiful with the bit of raspberry pink showing through. Who knew it could be so easy!


    • Reply theChelseaProject October 2, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      LOL!! I know! Right? I think sometimes we make things too hard. Let’s make a pact. Going forward, it’s all about the easy. 🙂

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