Introduction: Love Illuminated - Gold Leaf Valentine Art Panels

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!

How do you spell LOVE? G-O-L-D of course! Combining the fine craft of gilding with a kiss of fresh color creates a timeless art piece for your beloved S.O., relative or friend. This joyful four-panel valentine makes a stunning shelf display or can be hung - like jewels for your wall! Two layers of gilding make this project extra special and unique. Let's get started, crafty Cupid!

Step 1: What You'll Need

4 gessoed, cradled art panels with hanging hardware installed if
desired, (we used 5” x 5”, ¾” deep Ampersand Gessobords)

Stencils/cutouts for letters and heart shape

Shellac (we love Liberon Special Pale French Polish)

2 foam brushes - one for shellac, one for first application of gilding size

2 approximately ½” brushes - one for second application of size, one for Acrylic Clear Coat

Cotton gloves

Sepp Gilding Workshop Water-based Gilding Size

Sepp Gilding Workshop Imitation Gold Leaf book of 25 leaves

Japanese Colored Genuine Silver Leaf* in Cranberry and Champagne Pink or Sepp Gilding Workshop Imitation Silver Leaf book of 25 leaves

Sepp Gilding Workshop Acrylic Clear Coat

*Note: we used luminous colored silver leaf for our letters, but if you have difficulty finding it at your art store, you can use Imitation Silver Leaf instead, and paint over the leaf with your desired colors.

You can find the gold leaf, size and gilding supplies where Sepp Gilding Workshop products are sold.

Step 2: Prepare Panels and Apply Size for First Gild

Use a foam brush to coat the front and sides of your panels with shellac and allow to dry, then apply a second coat and allow to dry. Using the second foam brush, apply water-based Gilding Size to cover the front and sides completely. In a few minutes, the size will turn from milky white to clear, which indicates it’s ready to gild.

Step 3: Time to Gild!

Wearing cotton gloves, fold back the pages on the book of leaf to expose the imitation gold. on the hand that will touch the copper leaf – bare fingers will stain the leaf. Flip your panel over so the sticky side is facing the leaf, and center it over the square of leaf. Press down, and then pick up the panel. Press the front and edges to with your gloved hand to ensure full contact.

Step 4: Complete First Gild

You can cut strips of the leaf with scissor to gild the sides of the panel as needed Use your gloved hands to do a final smoothing and to brush away excess leaf.

Step 5: Stenciling for the Second Gild

Use a pencil to lightly trace your letters. Using a brush, apply the water-based size within the stencil lines. It may take a few extra brushstrokes to ensure the size flows over the gold.

Step 6: Second Gild

Allow the water-based Gilding Size to come to tack – when it’s clear and feels dry but sticky, it’s ready. Turn your panel over so the size is center over a square of colored silver leaf and press down onto the leaf. Repeat the process until all panel letters are gilded. If you’re using Imitation Silver Leaf, allow the gilding to dry for a day, then lightly brush acrylic color over the leaf as desired.

Step 7: Brushing Down the Leaf

Once all the panels are gilded, gently but thoroughly brush away the excess leaf with your gloved hands and your letters will emerge! Keep the extra flakes for future projects. Topcoat your project 24 hours after the last application of size.

Step 8: Spread the Love!

Get ready to wow your special someone with this glowing gold masterpiece!

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