August 14, 2014

How To Make Gold Leaf Art (Round Two)!

Hey ya'll! 
I just got back from Michigan on Tuesday (more on that later), and I was finally able to put the finishing touches on a little art project I've been working on.

This isn't my first attempt at gold leaf art (you might remember this one or this one), but I really wanted to make a larger piece with some hints of pink and purple for the office.

I know that in my last post I debuted this thrifty little dresser with a mirror over it, but the mirror actually goes in another part of the office. So, that was just kind of a temporary setup until I could finish this painting.
Ya'll seemed to love the mirror even more than the dresser, and I don't blame you one bit. 
I mean, how many white painted dressers can one girl make?

*Probably many more. But we can be honest with each other.

So, anyways, here's the new art.

I just love the way it turned out, and my favorite part is the way it's hung on a little gold chain.

I had Jesse help me with building a frame, and I styled it up with a few little tidbits from the thrift store like my ginger jar and gold mug (used as a pencil holder).

So, here's how I did it, just in case you want to make your own version.
Prepare for the parade of beautiful nighttime iphone photos.
It's headed your way.

The first thing I did was go to the craft store and get a big canvas. I used a coupon, so it only cost me about $20 for a canvas this size. Then, I just used some basic impasto paste/modeling paste (affiliate link) and some leftover off-white wall paint and painted the canvas. The impasto paste just adds a little texture to your painting, so that part is totally optional.
I've been working on painting and installing trim for months now (it never ends), and I've temporarily been using the haunted house room over on the side of the bedroom as my workspace. 
That poor, sad, little room.

Once the base coat of white paint and impasto paste was dry, I applied some Elmer's glue to the parts of the canvas where I wanted my gold leaf to go.

And then I moved out into the living room and put a blanket on the floor and decided to paint there.
Because I am a ridiculous person that needs things like windows and light (basic amenities that the haunted house room does not offer).

Next, I applied the gold leaf. The store was out of gold leaf sheets like I usually use, so I had to use gold leaf flakes. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I'm happy to report that I think I like the flakes even better for the purposes of making abstract art. 
That being said, the flakes are 1000% messier. Go ahead and charge your dustbuster now.

As for paint, I bought a huge pack of acrylics at the craft store about 2 years ago, and they are still going strong. I've been able to use them for all sorts of art, and it has basically every color you need.

So, now for the paint part. Most people get kinda stuck on this part. But, don't be intimidated. I have zero skill or talent when it comes to this. I just kinda mix paints and apply them to different parts of the canvas. 
The trick is layers. I apply the first layer and let it dry.

Then, I look at it and decide to add more paint and gold leaf. 
And you're probably noticing that this isn't what the final painting turned out to look like. I let it sit like this for a few days, thinking that it was done, but not really loving it. And then I ultimately went back and added another layer of white paint and a few touches of black, gray, etc.

So, during the the few days when I thought it was already done (even though deep down I wasn't in love with it yet), I enlisted Jesse to help me make a frame. 
He's become quite the wood working man since doing all of the trim work, 
and since I am NOT (a wood working man), this comes in handy.
Also, you can totally do this project without a frame and it will still look awesome. 

And this is a terrible pic, but at least you can see the little wooden frame when it was first done (and the painting after I first applied a little more white paint around the edges and finally decided I loved it.)

Here's an actual up-close shot so that you can see how I added little touches of black and gray and then let that first really bright layer kind of peek through the last extra layer of white paint.

Then, I decided to spray paint the frame. First, I tried gold, and that looked awful, so I tried silver instead. And that looked great. Then, once it was dry, Jesse stapled the frame to the canvas from the back with a staple gun.

After everything was assembled, I decided I wanted to do something a little different and hang it on the wall with a little gold chain hanging off of a hook. So, I went to the hardware store and brought home 3 feet of chain (both silver and gold because I wanted to test out what the silver looked like), some cup hooks (to attach to the top of the frame) and a wall hook to hang the painting from. This all cost me about $3.

Oh, and there's all sorts of different types of chains available. You just pick out the chain you want, and an employee cuts it for you.

Once I had all of the necessary supplies, Jesse helped me twist the little cup hooks into the wood and attach my chain.
I probably could have handled that myself, but it's really sweet that Jesse wanted to help me with my art project. Enlisting him to make a frame really got him involved. Who knew?

Here's a closeup of the wall hanging set up, so that you can get a good look at how it was done. It was a really simple little addition, but the silver frame and little gold chain really give the painting a little extra oomph.

My favorite part is that when I'm in charge of hanging stuff on the wall, it usually involves a lot of guess work, several nail holes, a remote used as a hammer, and even the occasional greasy handprint on the wall. When Jesse is in charge, it involves precise measurements, levels, and one very perfect nail hole.

So, that's the story of the latest painting. It took me a few days, and I had to enlist the help of a woodworker, but all in all, a pretty easy project. And it looks so great in the office, which will hopefully all come together soon so that I can show you the rest of the room.

Before I go, I promised to tell you about Michigan. We drove another 10+ hours last Thursday to visit Jesse's parents up in Michigan. I'm getting really good at this road trip thing lately.
 I spend most of my time burritoed in a blanket.
You can thank Jesse for capturing this very special pic of me sleeping.

While we were there we spent lots of time just hanging out with Jesse's parents, playing golf, and going out to eat. I'm not the most capable golf player, so I usually just drive the cart while Jesse and his parents play.

We saw a few sights and explored the nearby town while we were there. It was very Alpine-esque and I really enjoyed it. (We were up in Gaylord, Michigan, for those of you who might know the area.) Jesse and his family have been going up to Michigan every winter to snowmobile for decades. And now Jesse goes with his friends. So, he was kinda on a mission to take me to all the spots they go and show me how different they look in the summer.
Of course, I've never been, so it was more of an 'Oh, yeah, look at that hill.' sorta experience for me. But, he's promised to take me snowmobiling this winter, so perhaps I'll have more to report then. :)

All in all, it was a fun little trip to a new place, and it was great to spend some time with my in-laws. I don't get to see them very often, and being around them is kinda good for the soul. So, now we're back, and hopefully I can get back to working on the house. Wish me luck.

That's all for today, ya'll!
Thanks for being here. 'Til next time!
That's all for today! 'Til next time!
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  1. This turned out so pretty! I definitely want to give it a try, although I might need to borrow your man to come build a frame for me ;)

    Kristina does the Internets

    1. Thank you! And yes, you should! I'll send Jesse right over. :)

  2. That artwork is gorgeous! I bet people would pay a good chunk of change for something like that! I fear that my attempt would likely resemble preschooler finger paint :)

    1. Oh GIRL, mine resembled a preschooler finger paint situation for the first three days. I was almost discouraged, but at the last minute...Pinocchio became a real boy.

  3. Um...LOVE IT. Can you make me one? PS- I also painted an abstract painting for our entry a few weeks ago and was measuring it for a frame today. Great minds, we are (said in Yoda voice).

    1. You, I love. Yes, I do. (Really poor Yoda speak for me loving you.)

  4. Wow! You did an amazing job, it looks so beautiful!

  5. This is absolutely gorgeous. I love that you included the in-process-not-loving-it photos. Just goes to show how you should never give up on your projects because with a little tweaking they often turn out better than you originally could imagine!

  6. That's so beautiful! It almost looks like a world map but in gold. I'm so inspired to try my own! Yours could sell in gallery for at least $500. ��

  7. Love how it turned out! I know this is abstract art, but when I look at it, I see a map of the eastern hemisphere... this may also be because I am planning a trip to Europe at the moment. haha

    1. I really do see a map now that so many people have mentioned it! That's so funny!

  8. None of this, "zero talent" talk. It looks amaze-balls! Love all your projects. This is the only blog I check out on the reg. <3

    1. Aw, thank you, Holly! And thank you for the reminder! I can be really hard on myself sometimes. xo

    2. ha ha love "amaze-balls". Now that's funny.

  9. That's such a gorgeous piece of art! It looks so professional. I'm going to have to try this one day (although I'm pretty sure mine won't turn out anywhere near as pretty haha!)

    1. I bet yours will turn out beautifully! Just keep at it til it does!

  10. I love this
    I once used a garlic press as a hammer

  11. Amazing project! It looks beautiful! Sometimes I feel like my whole house is like your haunted house room. The house has horrible natural lighting. Does not help that my husband must have been a cave-dweller in a past life, he doesn't care about natural light or open windows. Someday he will be that little old man sitting in his dark house with all the windows shut and no air conditioning in 95-degree heat. Humph.

  12. I love this painting! Can you please tell me how Jesse made the frame and what kind of wood he used?

    1. Hi Vicki! We just used cheap pieces of 1.5 inch precut pine from Home Depot.

  13. It's beautiful, Virginia! I'm SO impressed. Another method of getting a gold leaf look is modge podging gold tissue onto a canvas and then painting on it or around it. I discovered this technique when doing a Ballard Design Inspired painting. If interested you can check it out here :-)

  14. V- You say you're not artistic but look at this beautiful painting. I love it. It's just my style. I want to attempt one but I've done this before. I'll make one that looks nothing like yours and I'll be upset. (Of course I should be trying to just make my own creation!) Maybe I better just go to Home Depot and look at the chains...

  15. Just the right amount of color. It could be in a gallery! Nicely done.

  16. Very pretty! I'm loving your blue ginger jar pottery pieces. I recently saw one at my favorite thrift store - and never would have given it a second look - but decided to buy it because yours are so fabulous. It now has a proud place in the middle of my dining room table and I love it! Thank you for continuing to inspire;)

  17. I think your gold leaf art looks really good. I think the wooden frame makes it even better. What a great project. Congratulations.

  18. Love it and can't wait to get started on mine! Oh and that picture of you as a blanket burrito is the best! Lol

  19. Virginia i have 3 big canvas with print on them that i want to use for the gold leaf art. Do you think i can just paint them white to cover up the print and it will be ok? Xxx

  20. Love your blog. Inspiring. How do you apply the modeling paste? Trowel? I am going to man up and do this!!

  21. Totally fabulous! Can you advise on which of your favorite silver spray paints you used for the frame?

  22. I see a map of the world in your painting too lol. And hey, your orchid plant is still alive! You didn't kill it, yay!

  23. This is truly stunning! I love what you did with that corner :)

  24. I love it! You are such an artist, I wish I was this creative! On a different note, how many square feet is your house? It seems so big!

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. As much as I love your crafts (and you know I do!) I love reading about your adventures just as much! I traveled all over the states this summer as well (Two weddings and a baby shower\birthday party), so I know just what you mean about running around. We could start The Sisterhood of the Traveling Jorts! (ha ha! I crack myself up!) :D love ya girl! Keep on G-Leafin' :) (Ooo, sing it with me Journey-Style: "Don't stop...G-Leafin!") (Oh yea--that just happened!)

  26. What are the odds of following one pin on Pinterest, to a blog, where the writer not only makes fantastic art, but casually mentions that she has recently been in the VERY small town you live in? I'd say not very likely, but awesome! Whoohoo Gaylord!

  27. Wow, that really makes me want to paint! Well done :)

  28. Woah- I just found this post and you have immediately become my favorite blogger! Hard to believe you have no art skills looking at that canvas. This is definitely my next art project

  29. Virginia, I have looked at this post almost every day since you put it up. TODAY I am beginning the attempt to make one of my own. Yours is so beautiful, it just inspires me to try. I do have a question though: do you let the glue dry before applying the gold leaf or is it still wet/tacky when you do? Thanks for all your wonderful ideas!

  30. Love it! How did you make the frame? I like how it adds to the overall look.

  31. ummm I am so love with this that it hurts!! Basically, do you have any interest in making one for me and then I send you $$? haha L-o-v-e this! xoxo

  32. I love this painting. Until near the end when you showed a really closeup, I thought it was a map. :)
    Its gorgeous!

  33. Hi Virginia, Could you please share a bit more about the frame-making process? What kind of wood is it and how are the 4 sides attached together? Thanks! I was so inspired by your painting that I did one myself.

  34. "Make poor husband get involved"
    Oh, that is so me, haha!
    Great post, you have some very talented skills. Thanks for watching!
    Kind regards from across the Atlantic.
    /Sheila Camilla

  35. Just want to say this site is one of the best I've ever come across! Very well done and all projects are fantastic! You do your homework girl and it shows. So love everything on here and LOVE how you express yourself and all your adventures. The humour is great.


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