Easy Gilding by RGC

By Barb Skivington for Real Girls Create

Gilding with metal leaf adds a touch of elegance to both detailed carvings and flat areas. Annie Sloan Metal Leaf and Gold Size make this easy to accomplish.

Choose a Chalk Paint® color that will be a good choice under your metal leaf. Traditional red and terra cotta colors, such as Primer Red, Emperor’s Silk, Burgundy and Scandinavian Pink, add warmth to gold leaf. Cooler blues and violets or even black, such as Napoleonic Blue, Old Violet and Athenian Black, create a sophisticated look when used under silver or aluminum leaf. Blue-green or verdigris colors, such as Provence and Florence, are perfect for the warm tones of copper leaf.

Before painting, make sure that your piece is clean and dry. Shake your can of paint for about 30 seconds. Remove the lid and stir well. Use a stir stick to get down to the bottom of the can and stir in circles, touching the bottom every time to make sure that you have stirred everything up.


If necessary, mask off the area to be gilded with safe release painters’ tape. Apply one or more smoother coats of paint using a Flat Brush or Detail Brush, avoiding any strong brush marks. If you find your paint to be a bit thick for this, pour a suitable amount into a separate container and add a small amount of water (about 10%), stirring well so the paint will flow nicely off the brush without being runny or drippy. Allow the paint to dry.


Apply a thin, even coat of Gold Size using a small Detail Brush or Flat Brush, aiming for complete coverage. The size may be thinned up to 10% with water to increase its leveling properties; the smoother the application the more shine your leaf will have. Allow the size to come to tack. Wash your brush in hot soapy water immediately after use.

Gold Size will ‘come to tack’ in about 15 to 20 minutes and remain tacky for gilding for approximately 36 hours. The size is at its tack state when it feels dry but sticky (similar to the adhesive side of painters’ tape). You can speed the drying process with a hair dryer.

Next, put a light coat of talcum powder on your hands to prevent the leaf from sticking to them and reduce the chances of any tarnishing. Gently pick up a piece of leaf and slowly place it over the now tacky size. You can lightly crumple the leaf in your hands for a more ‘broken’ look. Cover your entire sized area in this manner, slightly overlapping the individual leaves. Use a soft, dry brush to tamp the leaf firmly in place, making certain that it is completely adhered. Clean off the remaining loose pieces of leaf, known as ‘skewings’, by pushing them away with the brush, followed by gently rubbing over the leaf with either cheesecloth or a soft clean cloth for a final smoothing. For best results, leave to dry for 24 hours.


Seal and protect your beautiful gilding by applying a thin coat of Chalk Paint® Wax, taking care to not rub the wax in too hard. Remove the excess with a clean absorbent cloth and let the remaining wax dry. Gently buff the following day with a soft cloth for a more polished look. Treat your finish with extra care for a few days until the wax has cured and hardened.

Adapted from Annie Sloan’s books, Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, pp. 138-139, 140-143, 146-145, 146-149; Color Recipes for Painted Furniture and More,pp.28-31, 48-49, 58-61, 68-71.

Permission to publish this article given expressly to 3PaintGirls by Barb’s estate.