Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How To Use Metal Leaf

Somehow, it is Wednesday and I am way behind on "things" in my life.  The three day weekend sort of threw my schedule for a loop.  By the way, how was your weekend?  Hope it was spectacular, ours certainly was even though the weather was more like the 4th of July it was so hot.  Thankfully, it is going to cool down a bit this week.

Yesterday, our oldest daughter was in need of our help.  She had a hernia repaired a week ago and still can't pick anything up and she needed to go to the grocery.  She has three sons, one of whom is a 22 month old which proves challenging in the "can't pick anything up" department.   Her pick up limit is 10 pounds and  grocery sacks for a family that size weigh more than 10 pounds, so it was Grandma and Pawpaw to the rescue.  Afterward, we ran some errands and by the time we got home and had dinner, it was time to watch the Next Design Star on HGTV, therefore I didn't get my blog posted.   Time sure can go by in a hurry.  I don't watch much TV, but Next Food Network Star and Next Design Star are two of my "must watch" shows.  Do you have some of those in your life?

Anyway, I wanted to continue my series on Americana decorations that I am using here at the little yellow cottage this summer.  The picture above shows what I am using on the front of the house in honor of the Olympics and presidential election.  I wanted something other than a wreath, so this is what I came up with.  The star was one I have had for several years and it was a rusty red color.
If you don't know me well, you may not know my love for all things stars.  I have them in all sizes, shapes and colors.  Needless to say, I decided to doctor this one up a bit for a more Americana look so I painted it to look like this using acrylic craft paints.
Voila! - that gave it a whole new look didn't it?  I simply used navy blue on the left hand part of the star and stenciled white stars on it when the paint was dry.  Then, I used ivory and painted every other side of the remaining points on the star.  It now has a true Americana look and the cost was only time since everything else was on hand.

I wanted to add USA underneath, so I purchased some mache' letters at JoAnn's for $2.99 each.  I painted one barn red, one ivory, and one navy blue. The front of our house has cedar shake on it which can look rather dark under the porch roof even on a sunny day, so I decided I would put metal leaf on the edges of the letters to brighten them up and make them easier to see from the street.

Metal leaf comes in gold, silver, bronze, copper, and some variegated colors.  I used the gold color.  This is not to be confused with real gold leaf which is no less than 22 carat gold.  Metal leaf comes in packages that you can buy at the craft store and you also need a bottle of Metal Leaf Adhesive Size to apply it.  A package will cost around $8.00 and so will a bottle of the adhesive, but it goes a long, long way.  There are 25 sheets to a package.  Fortunately, I had this on hand also.
This is what the back of the package says about metal leaf.
"What is Metal Leaf?  Metal Leaf is a micro-thin sheet of metallic composition metal packaged and separated by pages of tissue paper.  All through history in the world of decorative arts, gold leaf has played a very prominent roll.  This same phenomena is just as true today as precious metals continue to exemplify quality and good taste.  With inexpensive composition leaf, we are now able to afford that special look in home decor and personal accessories.  Our new products and techniques make the leafing process fun and foolproof with satisfying results every time."

This is how the metal leaf looks in the package.
Each sheet is micro thin, but very easy to apply.  You simply apply the adhesive wherever you want the leaf to show.  I used a small square shader brush and went around the edges of each letter.
The adhesive will be milky looking when first applied  (you can see some at the bottom of the "U").  As it dries, it becomes opaque and very tacky.  After an hour's drying time, you can begin to apply the metal leaf.  You just tear small pieces off and rub it over the adhesive using your finger.
There is little to no waste since you can pick up all the little tiny pieces and rub them over the adhesive. It gives a very smooth finished look and mimics real gold leaf for a miniscule fraction of the price.  Metal leaf can be used on anything - furniture, candles, jewelry, ornaments, picture frames - the list is endless - just use your imagination.  Here are the finished letters.
It only takes a short amount of time to use the metal leaf and it is so much fun.  It's one of those mindless craft projects that has a beautiful outcome.  I attached the letters together using sisal twine and some hot glue and hung them on the front of the house.  Then I placed my Americana star above them.

LOVE the way this looks on the front of the house.  The metal leaf outline makes the letters pop from the street and this wall hanging can used for the rest of the summer.  

If you have objects that you love in your decorative "stash" and don't really want to part with them, find a new life for them by using things like paint, metal leaf, or by rearranging objects from one room to another.  It can save you lots of money and add new interest to your home.  Or, you might consider trading things with friends or family for a new and different look.  Paint and metal leaf can completely change the look of any piece of furniture or object and it doesn't cost nearly as much as replacing that object.  You also have the satisfaction of saying "I did it myself."  Crafts are a way of expressing yourself.  Give it a try, you will be surprised what seeing with "new eyes"  and a little work with your hands can do.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves.
Phyllis George