Introduction: Gold Leafed Champagne Flutes
Easy DIY Gold Leafed Champagne Flutes
My long-held impression about gold leafing or gilding, was that it was a process shrouded in mystery and should only be done by enigmatic alchemists or skilled craftspeople who had trained for years. I’ve since found out that it’s actually one of those crafts that is “easy to learn, but takes years to master.” So here I am to help demystify the process for you and help get you started. This is a simple, yet sublime way to dress up any glass item, with gold leaf.
Once you try this, you’ll say, “What the heck was I afraid of?”
With this project, the most basic techniques are all it takes to create a gorgeous result. Plus, with the introduction of lower-cost imitation leaf materials (e.g. aluminum and brass), this age-old craft is now accessible to the modern crafter.
Flutes like these sell for a bundle in stores, but you can make them at home, personalize them, and for a fraction of the cost. I bought these glasses at the dollar store, the adhesive was under five bucks, the leaf, under ten. Amazing, right?! Now imagine bringing these to a dinner party, or giving as a wedding gift along with a nice bottle of fizz. You’re ready to celebrate, and impress the heck out of people. Go you!
Step 1: Materials
- Specialty adhesive/size for metal leaf
- Rubbing alcohol
- Waxed paper
- Makeup sponges
- Small paint brush
- Imitation gold/silver leaf
- Paper towel or scrap of velvet
- Unused pencil eraser (optional)
Gold leaf can be 24K or a mixture of metals. Imitation gold leaf is often a mixture of gold, brass and other metals, and is much more affordable than pure gold leaf. In either case, the metal is melted and combined to achieve the desired color, then hammered until it is thinner than paper, about 4 to 5 millionths of an inch.
Step 2: Preparation
First, make sure that your glasses are completely clean and free of any oil or grease. Once cleaned, swab a little rubbing alcohol along the surface and wipe dry with a paper towel.
Step 3: Applying Glue/Size
Pour a very small amount of the leaf adhesive into a shallow dish or plate. Dip the makeup sponge into the glue/size. I find that makeup sponges are just porous enough.
Focusing on the area just above the stem, ‘stamp’ the adhesive in a random pattern all around the bowl of the glass. Apply the adhesive sparingly, it’s very thin, and you don’t want any drips. You can always go back and add more. When satisfied with the application, set aside to dry until the glue/size turns clear – between 10 and 30 minutes.
Step 4: Applying Metal Leaf
Metal leaf is VERY thin, nearly weightless and can be tricky to handle. My favorite method is to get a piece of waxed paper, press it over a sheet of metal leaf, and ‘iron’ the paper over the leaf with your hand a few times. The static electricity helps the leaf cling to the waxed paper so it can be transferred.
Lay the waxed paper/leaf over the adhesive areas, covering completely. Use the waxed paper to burnish (press on) the gold into the adhesive and also rub away any excess leaf.
Step 5: Finishing
Use a paper towel, fine brush or scrap of velvet cloth to remove any dust or specks of stray leaf.
Step 6: Variations
To make polka dots, cut a tiny dot from the makeup sponge, glue to the end of a pencil, and use to apply adhesive. Smaller scraps of metal leaf are great to use for this design.
To make streamer flutes, carefully paint on the adhesive/size with a very fine paintbrush.
Using stick-on stencils, or if you have a steady hand, with a brush, you can create monograms. The possibilities are limitless!
Step 7: Final Thoughts
Gold Leafed Flutes must be carefully hand washed, and dried with a soft towel to avoid spots. With time and wear, the unsealed gilding will eventually wear off, but with care, they will last for many, many toasts! (And since you know how simple this is to do, you can always re-apply.)
They make gorgeous toasting flutes for the bride and groom, thoughtful house-warming gifts, and can dress up any old glassware to celebration-worthy status. This technique works on glass, also on ceramic, china… nearly any non-porous surface.
Now go have some champers (as my British pals would say), you’re good as gold. Cheers! And sparkle on!
To see video of this craft, click here.
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