This is a stunning way to create extra-memorable place setting favors for your wedding guests. The combination of diminutive earthen terracotta pots, charming natural succulents and beautiful copper leaf combine as a rustic yet elegant favor. We’ll show you how to gild the pots and highlight the edges of the plants in an easy, affordable and fun way. Let’s get started!
Step 1: What You'll Need
Synthetic paint brushes or foam brushes for applying primer and size
Sepp Gilding Workshop oil-based Gilding Gray Primer
Sepp Gilding Workshop Water-Based Gilding Size
Sepp Gilding Workshop Copper Leaf book of 25 leaves – you’ll need 1 leaf to do 2 potted plants
Sepp Gilding Workshop Acrylic Clear Coat (solvent-based)
Small, uncoated terracotta pots measuring 2 ½” high x 2 ½” wide at mouth
Variety of small succulents
For this project, we chose copper leaf for a faux rose gold look. Sepp Gilding Workshop (SGW) offers Gilding Kits with varying colors of leaf and primers, along with water-based or oil-based size, brush, stir stick and even gloves. SGW also offers Red and Yellow primers, and Imitation Gold, Aluminum, Variegated Red, Blue and Green Leaf separately.
Step 2: Prep the Pots
Priming the pots’ rims inside and out seals the clay with a pretty color so the gilding size sits on top and comes to tack. It also protects the gilding when you moisten the plant’s soil. Use a foam brush or paint brush to coat the rim of the pot with SGW Gray Primer, extending the paint down the inside of the pot to about ½ inch. Allow the paint to dry completely before going to the next step.
While the paint seals the pot, we’ve found it’s not necessarily needed before applying the size to other areas of the pot with loose, carefree strokes. Wash your brush thoroughly with mineral spirits.
Step 3: Apply Size
Apply enough SGW Water-Based Size to leave a thin white coating over the
painted area, and any unpainted areas you want to “spot” gild. The SGW Size will shift from milky white to clear in about 20 minutes – then it’s ready to gild. Be sure to apply size to the inside of the pot where you’ve primed as well. Wash brush thoroughly in water.
Step 4: Gilding
For this project, wearing cotton gloves is key – they keep your fingers’ natural oils from staining and fingerprinting the leaf (especially the case with imitation gold leaf and copper leaf). They are also useful in helping you brush off excess leaf post-gilding.
Wearing your cotton gloves, pick up a square of copper leaf. Place the leaf over the size and press gently but firmly. The excess leaf that’s not sticking to the size can be pulled away and applied to the next area. Make sure to wrap the leaf over the top edge and tuck the leaf into the inside sized area of the pot. Keep going till the whole piece of leaf is used.
If you want to add more dabs of gold to missed or new areas, simply apply a little more size where you want, and allow to turn clear.
Once you’ve applied leaf to all the sized areas, do a final pressing and the rub the excess away with your gloved hands and/or a brush. Save all the flakes or “skewings”. You will use these to gild the plants, and to embellish future gilding projects!
You’re ready for planting! Plant the succulents and add any extra decorative plant material as you wish.
Gently dab the tops and edges of the succulents’ leaves with the SGW Size. You may need to apply a second layer if the leaf seems very porous. Once the size changes from white to clear, gently press your tiny flakes of leaf to the tacky size.
Wait overnight then apply the Acrylic Clear Coat wherever you wish to protect the gilding and/or seal the terracotta (it will make the terracotta shiny). Wash brush with mineral spirits. We left ours unsealed to provide a pretty matte/shiny contrast. Your gilded succulents nestled in their glowing pots will enchant your guests!