Introduction: Gilded Pine Cones for Your Holiday Decor

About: I have been working with gold leaf and gilders for many years. It's a magical craft going back millenia. I love to introduce both adults and kids to the artistry of gilding with all types of leaf!

There’s no better way to create unique, sparkling decorations than waving your magic wand - except by gilding with beautiful Imitation Gold and Imitation Silver (Aluminum) Leaf! We use high quality leaf from Italy – it produces a superior shine. We’ll gild using both water-based size and oil-based size. Water-based size is ready to gild very quickly, offers a tack time that lasts indefinitely and produces a softer looking gilded finish. Oil-based size usually produces a shinier finish. Both sizes give excellent results, so it’s really a matter of your preference.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Set of pine cones – bought or gathered!

Small foam brush for applying size (adhesive)

Soft brush for skewing off excess leaf

Cotton gilding gloves

Sepp Gilding Workshop (SGW) Water-Based Gilding Size (glue for leaf) OR

SGW Oil-Based Gilding Adhesive

SGW Primer in Red and Gray

SGW – one book (25 leaves) each Imitation Gold, and/or Aluminum Leaf – each square of metal leaf will cover 1/2 – 1 whole pine cone, depending on size of cone.

Colorful ribbon

Sepp Gilding Workshop offers Gilding Kits with various colors of leaf and primers, along with water-based or oil-based size, brush, stir stick and even gloves. SGW also offers Red, Yellow and Gray primers, and Imitation Gold, Aluminum, Variegated Red, Blue and Green Leaf separately.

Step 2: Gilding With Oil-Based Size

Using a foam brush, apply SGW Red primer for Imitation Gold, and Gray for the Imitation Silver. When the primer is dry, apply SGW oil-based Gilding Adhesive with a foam brush to the painted areas. Allow to come to tack (usually less than an hour). When it feels sticky but dry it’s time to gild.

Step 3: Gilding Over Oil-Based Size

With gloved hands, Drape a piece of leaf over the cone and add leaf as needed to cover. You can use a soft brush or your gloved fingers to buff the leaf and remove excess. Be sure to save the flakes – they can be mixed for creating two-tone pine cones if desired!

Step 4: Gilding With Water-Based Size

Load your foam brush and apply enough SGW Water-Based Size to leave a white coating on each scale tip. The SGW Size will quickly shift from milky white to glossy and clear (in about 20 minutes), then the pine cone is ready to gild. Check that the glue feels dry but tacky. We applied the leaf directly onto the pine cone. If you like you can paint the tips first with Red or Gray Primer for added bits of color, as we did for the oil-size method.

Step 5: Gilding Over Water-Based Size

With gloved hands, lift a piece of your Imitation Gold or Imitation Silver leaf over the pine cone, wrapping it like a blanket. Repeat as necessary to envelope the pine cone. Press to ensure full contact. Buff down the excess with a soft brush or by rubbing gently with your gloved hands. Flakes of excess leaf can be used to gild more pine cones or decorate another project!

Step 6: Decorating

Gilded pine cones bring a lovely twinkle to wreaths, centerpieces, swags, and Christmas trees. You can easily tie a festive ribbon the cone to dangle it from a pine bough or doorway! Happy Holidays!