Who knew working with gold leaf could be so satisfying? This is a fun craft to try, just follow craft editor Emily Dawe's tips to achieve the best results

How to decorate with gold leaf

Transforming bowls, bags and notebooks with gold leaf is fun

You will need:

✤ Imitation gold leaf comes in individual sheets attached to a piece of backing paper – a booklet of around 25 sheets costs about £7.
✤ Size (also called gilding paste) is the name given to the specialist glue that bonds the gold leaf to a surface, it comes in both water-based and oil-based solutions.

You can apply gold leaf to a variety of surfaces, including wood, card, ceramics, primed canvas, metal – anything that is non-porous.

It’s best to work indoors with the windows shut because gold leaf is very thin, so the slightest draught will blow it away.

Emily’s Tip

If you’re masking off an area first, use washi tape rather than masking, as this can leave
a residue behind.

How To Apply Gold Leaf

Ceramics are great to decorate with gold leaf – you can play around with various designs, either freehand or masked off, as happy accidents can happen.

Place a bowl upside down on a large can, to raise it up slightly. Paint some of the size on to the surface, rotating the bowl as you go.

Our main photo shows some decoration ideas: Use a fine paintbrush to create small triangles all the way around the bowl’s rim (top bowl).

Freehand paint a border around the edge – this gives a pretty effect as the gold adheres to the brushstrokes (second bowl down and bottom). Or mask off areas, following our simple steps:

1 Mask off triangles around the rim of the bowl. Next, apply a little of the size to the exposed triangles. Leave for at least 15 minutes, as you need the surface to be tacky.

Gold leaf bowl step 1

2 Take a sheet of the gold leaf from the booklet, with the backing paper still attached. Hold it over the area you want to cover, then cut a piece slightly bigger.

Gold leaf bowl step 1

3 Press the gold leaf face down on to the sized area and gently rub on the backing paper, to release the gold on to the surface. Leave to dry for a few hours.

Gold leaf bowl step 3

4 Carefully peel back the washi tape. You’ll know if the area isn’t completely dry as the gold leaf will start coming away from the sized area. If dry, remove all the tape.

Gold leaf bowl step 4

5 Brush away the loose bits of gold leaf that are hanging off using a soft paintbrush. Brush over the whole surface lightly to create a soft burnish on the leaf. You may need to use a soft cloth on any larger projects.

Gold leaf bowl step 5

Other projects to try…

Shine Out From The Crowd

Size doesn’t work on fabric because the surface is porous, so for this project we used PVA glue instead.

Start by placing a piece of plastic inside the bag, to prevent the two sides of the bag sticking together.

Either masking off an area or using a stencil, dab on a thin coat of PVA glue. Once it’s tacky, apply the gold leaf as described (top right) and leave overnight to dry.

Brush off excess, then apply some PVA glue over the top, to secure it. Carefully detach the plastic from inside.

Note: These bags aren’t recommended for use if it’s pouring with rain.

Gold leaf bags

The Midas Touch

Add strips and triangles of gold to the front of some plain notebooks, masking off the areas you want to cover.

Some notebooks have shiny surfaces, so the size can often ‘sit’ on top, causing a much longer drying time.

Experiment and test the tackiness, as you may need to add more size.

Be careful when pulling off the tape as the gold leaf will lift off easily from shinier surfaces
which, in turn, can create a beautiful effect.

Emily’s Tip

If you are covering large areas with gold leaf, overlap the sheets by a couple of millimetres to avoid any gaps

Gold leaf notebooks