How To: Silver leaf the Non-Exact Way

hello there!  Hope you a simply wonderful long weekend!  Our Fourth was spent outside, with friends, enjoying all the money that others spent on fireworks!  We are talking major show watched from our deck.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Hughes brought home a little table with great curves and quatrefoil top.  Immediately I thought, well, I will dress her up with a go- to grey and that will be that.  But, while driving around with the hyena, I had an epiphany (all my deep thinking happens when I drive, by the way) and I called the Mr. and I said, " how about silver leafing the top?"  He proclaimed me a genius (not really) and I swung by and picked up some more sizing since I knew I was running low.  So here, my friends,  is how to silver leaf a table in the Vintage Junky fashion:

Here is the table swathed in her new grey paint

You will need silver leaf sizing (you could probably also use spray adhesive, but I have a feeling the over spray would be a nightmare if you didn't prep, and I don't like to prep!)

Put on a thin, even coat awkwardly with your left hand so that you can take a photo with your right...

While you let it dry completely, run in the house, grab a can of yellow and spray paint a chandelier yellow for your vintage camper... no?  Just me?  Remember what your husband said about not getting any spray paint on the contacts and run back inside to get something to cover them.
Okay, should be dry.

Get out your silver leaf and a brush.

Try, as always when you silver leaf, to get the brush to pick up the leaf by static reaction.  When this doesn't occur, very, very, very carefully pick it up with your fingers (make sure they aren't sticky from sizing or spray paint... )

Place the leaf on the table and smooth it down with your brush.  Just smooth along that piece... don't start dusting along the edges just yet.

Place another piece directly underneath and follow this process until...

You decide to move out of order since it was looking too orderly.  At that point, put the leaf wherever you want.  

You can gently, gently, gently tear the pieces that over hang and use that to fill in spots that you perfectly line up to the edge.

Cover the whole table, or most of it.

Now, this is where the magic happens, start to dust the excess silver leaf off with your paint brush.  Do it in a "I am excavating for fossils" sort of way.  This is fun.

Watch how the excess lazily floats to the ground.  Say a little prayer that the wind doesn't blow the flakes over to your chandelier.  Say "You're Welcome" under your breath to the neighbors who will most likely find the little bits on happiness dancing in the breeze.

There, all leafed.  Now, sometimes you will find spots that for some reason (even though you put on a perfectly even coat of clear sizing) that the leaf didn't stick.  You can resize those areas and releaf.  I am assuming though, that if you made it this far in this tutorial, that you don't care about perfection and that you would rather it look a little worn and vintage.

So this next step is for you guys: lightly (and I mean lightly) sand the surface... use a 320 grit.  It will sort of antique it and tarnish it a little.  Some people (the ones who follow the directions on the bottle) will seal the top.  I prefer to leave it unsealed so that it will get a patina over time.

And there you have it.  A silver leafed top.

Stand back and admire all your hard work.  

Much to your surprise, this isn't my first time silver leafing.  I have done several mirrors, knobs, pumpkins... I think I like it since it has that mercury glass look.  It is pretty simple... if you do it my way. 
Okay, go silver leaf something!

bye for now!


  1. that looks fantastic! i have yet to try silver leafing, but i really want to. i'm scared. ;)

  2. You make that look pretty simple but sure it isn't .

    I have always wanted to do an old wood frame with silver leaf?


  3. You are a genius!! *LOVE* that idea...I may be stealing it for a side table for my entry. Oh girl, how you inspire me daily. ;o)


  4. I should not even be on the computer right is what Im supposed to be doing:) But I had to comment to say thank you for this little lesson! I have always wanted to give it a try and now I will!

  5. So interesting. I have never seen that done but I am interested! Dianntha

  6. ummm, i need to do this.
    you make it look so easy!
    even when you use your left hand. ;)

  7. Love the way you adhere all of the leaf before starteing and then leave the top to oxidize.

  8. how fun!!! now i need to figure out what to leaf!!!! looks wonderful,

  9. Well, now thanks to you, Michelle, I'm going to have to add silver leafing to my list of projects....most of which are sitting partially finished in my garage!

  10. l.o.v.e this....such a great idea!

  11. Love the shape of your table - looks great!

  12. I have never done this but you sure make it look fun and easy! Or maybe it's just your funny commentary that distracts us from any pitfalls involved? I love the look of this and it really does look like a fun process! Thanks for sharing!


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