DIY Gold Leaf Lamp Shade

I have always admired the look of a gold leaf lampshade, but I have not admired the price.  DIY to the rescue!  I did the DIY gold leaf lamp shade for two different shades.  I absolutely love the look of the gold leaf paired with the warm glow of  Edison bulbs.  I like it even better when I just squash my liberal guilt down and tell myself that it is an accent light and I don’t reaaaalllllyyyy need to be using the LED’s to save the environment… Anyway, back to the tutorial.

How to DIY Gold Leaf a Lamp Shade

Gold Leaf Lampshade

Materials Needed:

  • Lamp shade: Note the underline and bolding.  The lampshade selection is key to choosing the correct materials from this point forward!
  • Gold Leaf Sheets*:  I grabbed a Gold Leaf Kit* and ordered a refill.  I needed somewhere in the order of 40 sheets to do two normal sized lampshades.  I am not advocating using real gold here!  The gold toned sheets give a great finish at a tenth of the cost of actual gold.
  • Adhesive* (also called Sizing*):  Here is where the lampshade makes a difference.  Hard plastic interior lampshades work well with the paint on adhesive contained in a gold leaf starter kit, BUT you will really need a spray adhesive for a fabric lampshade.  The fabric soaks up the liquid adhesive quickly while a spray adhesive coats the surface of the fabric giving a good sticky edge to grab the leaf
  • Sealer*
  • Soft Brush: Does not need to be expensive and frankly I misplaced my bristle brush and just finished up with a sponge brush.  I might have been too lazy to dig through the paint supplies to find a nicer brush, though, the results would likely have a smoother finish.
  • Spray Paint: Only if you are changing the color of your lampshade
    Gold Leaf Supplies
    Replace this sponge brush with a nice soft bristle brush. Don’t be a lazy cow like me!

Step 1: Correcting Your Lamp Shade

Is your lamp shade old? ugly? Old and Ugly?  Give it a good cleaning, spray paint the hell out of it, and or bedazzle the exterior until you are happy with the look.  You’ll need to complete the outside prior to the gold leaf.  What’s that you ask?  Can you spray paint a cloth lampshade?  Hells yes you can.  Just remember it will soak up a lot of paint so be prepared to do a few coats.

Spray painting a fabric lampshade
Boring white to… Yeah it takes a lot of coats of paint. Lots of coats…

Step 2: Getting Sticky

All gold leaf applications require that you have a tacky adhesive set and ready prior to gold leafing.  What this means in layman’s terms is when you touch a prepared surface it will need to feel sticky to the touch.  Picture your counter after you have left some sugary substance dry and you get a nice sticky feeling.  Liquid adhesive is painted on and left to dry anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  Spray adhesive is instantly ready. Remember to only apply in areas large enough that you plan to work with soon.  The sticky places can overly dry or collect dirt and lint.  I worked in 1/4 shade size pieces.

Make certain to cover any areas that you do not want to gold leaf!  Small particles of leaf will flake off during the leafing process and cling to any sticky areas.  Great if you plan on having gold in that area, bad if you do not.

Prepping a lamp shade with adhesive for gold leafing
By covering, I might have meant just take some old fabric and cover the areas you do not want to be sticky. Oh look, I used some old cardboard as a work surface again.  I think the ship has sailed on me ever having a nice prepped work surface and all materials present at the time of crafting.

Step 3: Be Delicate

First and foremost, the gold leaf is not actually attached to the little booklet.  The pages in between are there as protective dividers.  Don’t be a dork (maybe like me) and spend a good amount of time trying to rip out a page.  Lightly touch the gold leaf with clean fingers and kind of fan out the leaf above your project.  Where ever it touch the sticky part it is going to be STUCK.  So just know that wrinkles, ripped pages, etc are going to be part of the first few attempts.  This worked fine as I wanted an industrial, patchy look.  Also if the interior surface is not hard, you are never going to get a smooth appearance.  You should check out my tutorial on gold foiling fabric for an alternative if you are looking for a completely smooth fabric finish.

Step 4: Burnish Away

Once the leaf has been laid down use a soft bristle brush to pat it into any crevices and remove any extra leaf.  After burnishing a sheet repeat step 3 with the slightest over overlaps on the next sheet.  I wanted a more random look so I applied sheets at different angles and used partial sheets to fill in gaps

Burnishing Gold Leaf

Step 5: Protect Your Baby

Gold leaf is delicate and faux gold leaf will tarnish and change when not protected.  The kits come with a paint on sealer but you can use any clear acrylic coat designed to cover metal.  Paint or spray your coating.  Once dry place your lampshade on and admire!

Completed gold leaf lampshade with edison bulb

PLEASE NOTE: INSERT SOME CAUTION HERE

Use common sense here!  You just added a reflective metal coating to an item that surrounds a hot light bulb.  Monitor the heat that your lamp is putting out.  Use a lower wattage or LED lightbulb if you detect any abnormal heat.  A good looking lampshade is never a reason to start a fire!!!

*If this is not an affiliate link, then I am doing it wrong. Money earned on this link will go to support the hard work, time, and beer that went into crafting this post.

30 thoughts on “DIY Gold Leaf Lamp Shade

  1. Brianna, I absolutely loved this when I first saw it on Pretty Pintastic Party and knew it would be the perfect feature for this week! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for partying with us and link back up next week! Sarah, Sarah Sofia Productions

  2. Great tips the only thing I have gold leafed was pears at Christmas lol – Thanks for linking up to Pin Worthy Wednesday, I have pinned your post to the Pin Worthy Wednesday Pinterest Board.

  3. I’m a douche when it comes to DIY but this sure looks easy enough to attempt when I buy myself a new lamp (does it defeat the purpose?). PS/ Like the look of your blog!

  4. I love this! I’ve pinned several gold leafing projects lately (Would it be too much to gold leaf my whole house?), but you offer some of the best tips on making it happen. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be pinning.

    • I think I feel similarly about cooking. Love to eat, look at recipes, not much for the actual cooking. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Thank you! I am not sure about the too many lamps… We actually have some packed away. We love to buy and refurbish ones from thrift stores.

    • First, I absolutely love the name of your blog. Secondly, I have tried to use liquid leaf because I was scared to try gold leaf and it seemed kind of expensive. BUT, I found that nothing can beat the richness of the actual leaf. I think the pits and flakes give it real character. Do not get me wrong I think there are great applications for liquid leaf and rub & buff. Leafing is really the only way to get this look for a lampshade.

    • Sponge brushes are so easy, reusable, and cheap. I use them as is, cut up, and have even used the handle for a dowel pin in a pinch! They are not perfect for every project but they can usually get the job done. Thanks for dropping by!

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