With this project, you can turn a few simple green leaves into something truly beautiful. Clare Youngs uses metallic foil leaf gilding flakes that have a mix of copper, silver, gold, and pink flakes—they really shimmer and the colours are beautiful. You can string them together to make a stunning garland, but they would also look wonderful as an embellishment on gift wrapping or cards.
You will need
Leaves (you will need approximately 10 leaves per yard/meter of string)
Sheets of paper or newspaper (for pressing the leaves)
Some heavy books
Some strong pieces of paper (copy paper is ideal)
Quick-dry size adhesive (this is the glue that sticks down the gilding flakes. It can be easily obtained from art suppliers)
Metallic foil gilding flakes
Soft paintbrush (different than the one you use for the quick-dry size)
Sponge (not a soft one—a dishwashing sponge with a rough surface on one side is ideal)
String (Clare used gold string)
1. For this project, the leaves need to be pressed. Place the leaves in between two sheets of paper or newspaper. Place under some heavy books and leave for up to two weeks.
2. When the leaves are completely dried out and pressed, place one of the leaves on a piece of strong paper such as copy paper. Paint the size liquid all over the leaf and stem, making sure you cover everything. Leave the size to dry. Check the instructions on the bottle of size—some take longer to dry than others. I used a quick-dry size, which was ready in approximately 15 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the foil flakes all over the leaf and stem, then use a dry soft paintbrush to press the flakes onto the leaf. You can gently press the flakes down with your fingertip, too.
4. Shake off any excess flakes. If there any gaps on the leaves, place a few more flakes in those areas and press them down. Use the sponge to rub over the surface of the leaf. You may think this is going to rub off the flakes, but it doesn’t—it burnishes them, so that the surface is smooth and beautifully covered.
5. Repeat steps 2–4 to make a collection of gilded leaves. Tie the stems to some string at equal intervals to make the garland.