All That Glitters is Not Gold...but with the right technique, you could be golden.
It just so happens that I like nice things. Call me odd. Call me over the top. Go ahead and say it: “Who does Brian think he is, a Rockefeller?”
Well, it turns out I’m neither a Rockefeller nor a Vanderbilt. So how does one lavish their “castle” without a tycoon’s bank roll? We improvise. It’s a matter of knowing what you want and making it happen with a little bit of effort.
A couple years back I was exploring my heaven on earth: H& B Gallery. It’s Minneapolis’ premier antique store. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I came across a mirror costing several thousand dollars. It was a www.carversguild.com piece – hand carved of wood and gilded to the hilt. It was so me and oh so mine, but I couldn’t lay down the cash or put it on a credit card. All I could do was store away the image of it in my mind and sleep on it for a couple of years.
Then, out of no where, came my “diamond in the ruff.” Or, should I say, “carved wood mirror, painted an ugly buff”. It was a machine-carved mirror frame made in the 50’s and finished in a pickled peach. It looked pale, sickly and no wonder someone had cast it off. What’s more, it was part of a dresser set so it had carved wooden feet on it that would rest on the larger dresser that I didn’t want. But it was the perfect size for a foyer and it was only $150. So off it went for a ride home to my place.
Flash forward a full year later, on a day with a list full of things I didn’t want to do, I cut the dresser legs off it and attempted a gold gilding using a product from Michael’s I had never tried before: Rubb n Buff. Ya, it worked but it didn’t look like it was gold leafed. Plus, I really wanted it to look old.
For almost a year, I passed that mirror a couple times a day and each time I said to myself, “Brian, the world isn’t right and neither is this mirror.”
Now flash forward to February 2017. It was just another day with a list of must do’s around my home that I just wasn’t interested in doing. So to distract myself I said, “The Mirror.” And it was through more improvising with trial and error that I got the finish just right.
Most old mirrors have a layer of plaster in between the carved wood and the gold paint or gold leafing. So with the help of Martha Stewart’s acrylic white paint, I was able to give it that traveled, moved, chipped and moved again exposed plaster look that could give this mirror from the 50’s an aged, early 20th-century look.
So next I took a small brush and haphazardly applied that white acrylic in random areas on the mirror frame, because age never hits any piece of anything (or anyone!) evenly or symmetrically.
After the white paint dried the fun of the gilding could begin. Of course I had the option of gold leafing the mirror, but what a mess that is with tiny fragments of 24K all over. Sounds neat I know (what a problem to have, right?), but it’s not.
So I tried Plaid’s version of Classic Gold Leaf in the form of paint. Wow, it worked and one little 3/4 oz jar was much more than I needed to do the entire job. Keep in mind, I carefully and intentionally left spots of white exposed. And to my satisfaction (not easy people!) it turned out great. More on this technique when I attempt it again on another piece in another room.
If you ever see something you love, but don’t care for the finish, it’s probably waiting for you to take it home and give it a new color. So many things of value get overlooked that way.
Please leave me a message here or on Facebook if I can be of any assistance to your next improvisation project.