Easy Ways to Gild and Use Metallics on Moldings and Furniture

I may be impetuous most of the time but there’s one thing that I do that involves some level of organizing and planning – I make samples before going all out on a color or technique for a wall, molding or furniture. This is especially helpful if you are new to using a product.  Investing a small amount of time in testing a color, product or technique on a sample board or a piece of molding – will save you not only money but a lot of time as well. This small sample can also be useful when you go shopping.  When you’re hunting for fabrics etc, it’s easy to tote around a 3 inch molding with the color you just painted your coffee table with.

Decorative molding sample with pearl metallic and gold

Pearl base with gold metallic paint on design, then pearl stippled over it

Using Gold and Pearl Metallics: Above is a sample I did a few years ago for a client in NYC. I had to do a different finish on his crown moldings because he neglected to tell me that the moldings had about 100 layers of paint on them! You need a smooth surface for metallic paints to look great.  I wound up using a Sandstone texture on them and I made them look like limestone moldings.

Nina Campbell wallpaper with pearl and gold molding

This Nina Campbell wallpaper and my molding might make a beautiful powder room or small entryway design

Flash Gilding:  This is a gold leafing technique where you put the adhesive size on here and there (not on the entire piece) and it’s typically done with Schiabin – which are the leftover skewings from creating gold leaf.  You can use gold leaf also but you will have a lot of waste.

Flash gilding on a decorative molding

After the leaf is on and dry, you burnish it with a soft cloth first and then with a brush to get it into crevices and to wipe away the leaf that did not stick. I toned this particular sample with Dark Brown Faux Color from Faux Effects. This effect looks beautiful on carved moldings and furniture.

Nina Campbell wallpaper with flash gilded moldings

For the more dramatic, this color Nina Campbell wallpaper and a flash gilded crown molding

I had tried using metallic foils on moldings once before – at a trade show 5 or 6 years ago – so I felt it was time to do some samples with it.  I had a warm red molding collecting dust in my studio – so I figured I would try some gold on that first.

Before and after.  Leather red molding and then with the added metallic foil

For less decorative moldings, I usually just tip or highlight the edges and I make just one edge a little thicker with whatever metallic I’m using. I didn’t want it too heavy, so I sanded back a bit to distress the metallic foil.  For the thin lines, I either use a very small brush to apply the size (I used Wundasize) – and sometimes I even use the tip of my finger to apply the size. When the size comes to tack, you apply the metallic foil – with the shiny side up.  Then you apply pressure with a fairly stiff brush (I used a stencil brush) and transfer the foil to the molding. You can then antique it, like I did.

leather red molding with metallic foil, antiqued

I toned the molding with some eggplant and dark brown glaze

You can choose to have more of the gold showing but I prefer a more aged look.  I first toned it with Eggplant Faux Color from Faux Effects – but I wound up adding some Dark Brown Faux Color to mellow it a bit more.

Mood board with Robert Allen, Scalamandre and Kravet fabrics.

I pulled together some fabrics that could be used in a relaxed room with my molding sample – perhaps as a coffee table, entertainment unit or bookcase

And finally, I wanted to try the foil on a more ornate piece that was lighter in color – to see if I could get close to the flash gilding sample. Well, I learned something by doing this.  The sample I did with the metallic foil came out hardly looking like there was any gold on it at all after I toned it!  So, with lighter colors – when you are antiquing – you should put more foil on than you think.

Metallic foil on this sconce that I use as a bookend

After antiquing, you could hardly see the foil

With metallic foil, it’s very easy to go back and add more foil to a piece.  And, if you add too much, you can sand it back and antique it to push it back a bit – so I find it’s very forgiving.

Antiqued metallic foil on an ornate molding

This foil technique came close to the flash gilding technique

If the foil is too flashy, you can wax it with dark wax, which will tone it down. I’ll probably do this.

Hope you enjoyed my metallics post.  You might also enjoy my posts about using metallic foils in artwork and gilding and antiquing a Swedish clock. I love using metallics on moldings and furniture so much that I have to hold myself back sometimes so as not to do it “too much.”  Let me know how you are using metallics and foils.

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5 Responses to Easy Ways to Gild and Use Metallics on Moldings and Furniture

  1. Scribbler says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information with those of us who only wish we had your expertise. I love to try different effects, and although I am so not in your league, this tutorial is really helpful. I am going to pass this along to a talented friend in Texas who does a lot of this type of work.

    BTW, my blog is still hidden, but I will be back. I have recently had a horrible problem with spam and porno sites trying to glom onto my blog. When I get this resolved, I will open it up again.

    Ellen

    • Linda says:

      Hi Ellen – thanks so much. So sorry to hear about your problem. That is terrible news. I have been getting spam myself – but nothing else like you report. There should be a way to ward off this happeneing. We are only trying to disseminate information. I hope you are up and writing soon.

      Thanks for your great comments and for forwarding my blog to your friend.

  2. Linda says:

    Hi again Ellen – I did check in at your blog and noticed I couldn’t get through. I hope you sort out the problem soon!

    Linda

  3. Paul Price says:

    Linda,

    My wife and I bought a pair of gilded chairs that need quite a lot of work on the gilding. I can’t decide whether to try and tackle it or find a professional. Would you be able to recommend how to locate a professional? Also could you make any recommendations on how to go about educating ourselves on the gilding process and repairs to the gesso?

    Thank You

    • Linda says:

      Hi Paul – sorry I am seeing this late. You can look up the Society of Gilders for a reputable gilder. If you write back and let me know where you are located, I could recommend a professional for you. Gilding (and repairing gilded furniture) is not really something I would suggest as a DIY project – especially if these pieces are antique. You want to preserve the value – and that takes an experiences pro.

      Linda

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