DIY Geometric Gold Leaf Votives


how to apply gold leaf to glass


In April I participated in the latest edition of Swap It Like Its Hot. This time I received several items from Dena of Hearts and Sharts. So here I am, many months later, finally sharing the tutorial. 

Buried in a box of frames and scrapbook paper, I also received a set of plain glass tea light votives, used, just like little votives you probably have in a drawer somewhere, complete with a layer of melted wax covering the bottom. 

Other people's wax is like other's people chewed gum or cast-off band aid. I know. 

Please don't let that icky layer of melted wax stop you. 

DIY geometric gold leaf votives

My votives were squeaky clean and "good as new" in a matter of minutes. I filled each tiny container with very hot tap water and let it sit long enough to soften the wax. After a few minutes the wax will loosen from the glass and pop out. The whole thing easily comes clean with a soapy sponge. 

Dry the glass and you're ready to add some gold!

Gather Your Materials


Some notes about the materials I used: The Gilding Size is by Coda Artisans.
The gold leaf originally came in sheet form, but this stash of shredded leaf was leftover from a previous project, and I love the texture it creates, as opposed to the perfection of a flat sheet of metallic leaf. A bit of copper leaf made its way in there too!


DIY geometric gold leaf votives

In the example below I used a jam container. My kids' favorite raspberry jam comes in this little glass jar, and we go through one a week. I couldn't stand to let these go (says the hoarder) so I added a little gold for fun. 

The Process


Decide where you want the leaf to go, and use painter's tape to protect the area that will remain free of leaf. I wanted gold leaf to cover the design on the bottom, and a tiny section just above. 

DIY geometric gold leaf votives

Apply a thin layer of gilding size to the area that will be covered in leaf. Allow it to dry for about 10 minutes; you want it to be dry but still tacky. If the gilding size is too wet the leaf will be gooey, so apply it thin and let it dry for a few minutes. 

DIY geometric gold leaf votives

I made a little pile of gold leaf. Oh, here's a tip: do not sneeze in the presence of leaf. Do not use a fan of any kind in the presence of leaf. Do not breathe heavily in the presence of leaf. This material is as light as air and it will go everywhere! 

gold leaf

I rolled the glass into the pile of leaf, then patted it on to any thin areas with my fingers. 

Let it dry for a few minutes before removing excess leaf.

Use a regular old paint brush or any brush with stiff bristles to remove the excess material. You want a very thin layer. I sort of chip away at the leaf, holding the brush against the glass vertically. Save the extra, store it in a baggie, and use it again. 

Can you see the bits of copper mixed in there? 

DIY geometric gold leaf votives


I still use the votives from the Swap It Challenge. I love the glow. 


gold leaf votives


DIY geometric gold leaf votives


DIY geometric gold leaf votives

The jam container functions as our spare change jar.  

gold leaf on glass


Also, now my kids are gold-leafing all of the things.

kids crafts gold leaf diy

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Summer 2016: Loveland Castle

I'm taking a break from the topic of home decor, furniture restoration, and DIY to get out of the house and break the routine boredom of summer. A few weeks ago I decided to resign from my full time job and stay home with the kids. They are getting too big, too fast. The youngest Stevens is already 8, and I feel like I'm chasing after the precious memories.

The reality is that summers at home quickly become a chorus of bored kids who pick fights or watch tv all day, so I devised a plan to avoid these pitfalls, and explore our beautiful adopted state of Ohio. Each week we will choose a different spot to visit, armed with a picnic, because the point is not to spend money, but rather to spend the day outside. Weekly outings force me to be creative in finding interesting places to visit.


This week we drove just outside of Cincinnati to explore Loveland Castle with neighborhood friends. 




The castle is smaller in real life that it appears in pictures, but still very cool to walk through. I would have loved to spend the day here as a kid, letting my imagination run wild. 




Medieval law finally caught up to this guy. Too much sass will land you in the stocks. 
















That's so much better than sitting in an air-conditioned house all day. 



Next week - back to Upstate NY for lakes, vineyards, antiques, a new baby, and a special birthday!

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Curtain Trim DIY

A couple weeks ago I switched out the blue drapery panels for plain white. I loved the blue curtains, but I needed a change. The white is simple and clean, but they needed some personality. They look fine, but temporary.

white ikea curtains

Yes, I realize the irony; I remove the curtains with personality, then complain that the plain curtains lack personality. I'm like the people on Tiny Houses who complain the whole time that everything is so small. Seriously, please watch that show and take a drink every time someone comments about small sleeping accommodations, lack of a dishwasher, no room for a prized collection of 1,000+ pairs of shoes, etc. They do know what the show is about, right? 

And back to the curtains...

White curtains with black trim DIY, NYC poster

 I started with plain white Ikea Lenda curtains. It is no secret that these are my favorite curtains at Ikea. I used Lenda in beige in the dining room, and Lenda in grey in Owen's room. The material is a nice, heavy weight, and has a linen-like texture. With a price of $35 for a PAIR of 55"x118" panels, you can't go wrong. However, I do not like the look of tab tops on curtains, so I snip off the tabs and hack my own. Carefully opening each end with a seam ripper (or a razor for the brave) creates a pocket for the curtain rod, or even easier, just clip on rings!

There are tons of DIY tutorials about no-sew trim and ribbon trim on curtains; this is not a hot new idea. I went about mine differently, and this is barely a tutorial. Rather than using grosgrain/other ribbon for the black trim, I found a thick faux suede fabric (54" wide) on clearance and bought 1 3/4 yards. I wanted the trim to have a solid, substantial appearance. Ribbon or trim in the thickness I wanted was expensive for the yardage this project requires! I paid ~$10 for the fabric, but I did have to carefully measure and cut the fabric into strips, and sew it to the curtains. It was a long afternoon project, but well worth the effort. 

I cut the fabric into 4.5" wide strips, which allows 4" trim with 1/2" left to fold over to the back. The fold over just gives the curtains a neater appearance on the back side. Each side used 2+ strips. The strips are attached nearly invisibly with black thread. 

Curtain trim DIY

I couldn't decide between trim along the top only, or on the sides, or both. I started with trim on the top, and clipped a panel up to decide. (caution: iPhone pics)

White curtains with black trim DIY

It didn't look finished with the trim only along the top. It reminded me of black elastic on a white skirt.

White curtains with black trim DIY

I added a small strip to the side, just to get a visual idea, and it looked so much better!

White curtains with black trim DIY

Two hours later...

White curtains with black trim DIY


This window requires four panels in order to cover the blinding afternoon sun. Eventually I will install blinds, but that's a project for another day. 

White curtains with black trim DIY

I also finally got around to framing this reproduction vintage map of NYC that I picked up on my last visit. I had a matching set of maps when I left NYC, but a roving gang of brazen toddlers ate it a few weeks ago. It was my own fault for not framing it sooner. It makes me appreciate the lone surviving map even more. 

Vintage NYC poster

I'm incorporating more black and white accessories in this room.

Gallery wall with vintage dresser and framed maps

When the big kitchen project starts in the fall, my goal is for the two spaces to blend together with black & white, navy blue, and wood and brass accents. Right now they feel like very different rooms that do not belong in the same house. 

Well that's one more project down, several hundred ahead of me!
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Wingback Chair Makeover


wingback chair makeover furniture upholstery

Wingback chairs are everywhere, begging to be made over and loved again. These chairs were a staple in living rooms across America in the 80's and 90's. Now you can find them everywhere, for cheap!

A few months ago my friend and neighbor, Jennifer, asked if I had ever tackled a wingback. Jennifer also happens to be an amazing photographer with a super cute blog.




So no, I had not tackled a wingback yet. But I reupholstered a channel back chair, so this must be easier.

One would think. Each project comes with a lesson. I learn something new with every piece of furniture, whether painting or upholstery.

wingback chair makeover furniture upholstery


wingback chair makeover furniture upholstery

 This project was a lesson in carefully lining up the print so the heavier pattern of dots was centered on the interior chair back, then flowed down to the cushion (both sides!), and the lower front. That situation got a little hairy, but it worked out. The pattern on the interior of the arms runs horizontally, which I did not account for, and we had to order extra fabric for the arms. Thankfully, a fat quarter gave us the material we needed, and the patterns lined up perfectly.

I do love how it turned out!

wingback chair makeover furniture upholstery

Jennifer chose this dalmation print from Spoonflower, in faux suede.

At $34/yard she lowered the overall cost by pairing the print with coordinating linen on the back and sides.

After several unsuccessful attempts at stripping the legs, Jennifer painted them in ASCP Graphite with Dark Wax, and distressed them just a bit.

wingback chair makeover furniture upholstery

These prints go together beautifully. I think it tones down the busy dalmation print, and using two materials on a chair is very popular lately.

Having this wingback behind me, knowing how they're put together, and having an understanding of the process, I would LOVE to take on another one. Maybe even a pair!

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