My Copper Leaf & Metallic Wax projects were spurred on by our worst looking piece of furniture. We had a large, unattractive black metal desk that never fit in. We had moved around our kitchen set up and it was time to bring the enormous, sad looking desk into the living room (my office area.) If I was going to have to look at it, I wanted to turn it into an eye-catching show piece. We now have a copper leaf & metallic wax decorated masterpiece. I really like it. 🙂
I love the look of gold leafing & as I researched my project options, I came across the Speedball Mona Lisa Simple Leaf products. It is transfer-style leaf that comes attached to wax paper for easy application. Stick & peel leafing sounded manageable to me! I ordered the Copper Simple Leaf off of Amazon for $8. It comes with 18: 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 squares of leaf. Then I ordered the Amaco Rub N Buff Metallic Finish Wax in Autumn Gold, Ebony, and Antique Gold. They were $5-8 each for 0.5 oz. The Rub N Buff wax contains metallic pigments & has an amplified metallic paint effect. All you need to do to use it is clean & scuff up your surface and buff it in with your finger or a cloth!
I did not have a plan going in but I ended up applying 3 rows of copper leaf to the left side of the top of the desk, a copper (Autumn Gold) metallic wax center–which blended into a black wax right side of the desk with accents of copper leaf & copper wax. I also touched up the front of the desk with black & gold wax and covered the handles and bits of the drawers with copper leafing.
Rub N Buff
I eyed up several other pieces in the house that could use a touch up as I worked on the desk. It is so easy to revive a piece with the gold-toned metallic waxes! You get a bold metallic effect with minimal rubbing and the gold-tones dry almost immediately with no transfer afterwards. The Ebony Rub N Buff was more matte in effect, more patchy to apply, required much more buffing and transferred for several days before drying down. The final result is beautiful and is striking with a little bit of the gold-toned Rub N Buff applied over it!
Scuff up wood & metal surfaces (with 150 grit sandpaper) for the maximum effect. Clean your project, sand the surface gently, wipe down and apply the wax with a plastic glove, brush, or cloth. It will have the effect of the direction of your application: Wiping back and forth will produce a striped look & buffing in circles will give a round appearance to the application. The gold colors applied easier and seemed to cover more area. The black shade required a lot more product and was more difficult to move around. The more you rub and buff, the more metallic and shiny the appearance. To clean up, you only need soap & water. I wore my painting clothing but they recommend Dawn dish soap to remove any wax from clothing. There is a paint-type odor but that does not linger more than a day.
The Simple Leaf application was easy once I purchased the Speedball Metal Leaf Adhesive ($8 on Amazon.) I started out by using a water-based craft glue and it did not work as well as the adhesive made for leafing. Any metal leaf formula adhesive will be thin, easy to spread, and once it is tacky the leaf sticks well to the glue.
Simple Leaf Instructions:
- Prep: clean your project
- Adhesive: brush on an even layer of water based adhesive (formulated for guilding/leaf.) Allow the glue to dry down to a tacky consistency (like Scotch tape.) The Speedball adhesive says to wait 30 minutes (I did not read the bottle and applied mine after 10 minutes.)
- Application: apply one sheet of the leaf at a time, overlapping. If you have any scratches, holes or mistakes–leave them for now. The Simple Leaf is easy to use but any leaf product is fragile & easily disturbed.
- Burnishing: I burnished by placing a piece of wax paper over the leaf & rubbing back and forth with cheese cloth. It is a good idea to burnish in sections so you press down evenly.
- Fix your Mistakes: dab adhesive to any exposed areas (holes) and let dry until tacky, then apply the leaf on top. It is a good idea to use up any scraps left over on your wax application sheets. Burnish again.
- Remove Excess Leaf: Gently use a small, stiff brush to flick off any loose pieces.
- Sealing the Surface: **WAIT 3 DAYS** To prevent tarnish you will want to seal your surface with a glossy sealant. I bought the Speedball Metal Leaf Sealer for $6 on Amazon. After stirring product, use a flat, smooth brush to evenly apply a thin coat over the surface. Apply 2 coats (drying in between.)
I used one and a half packs of the Simple Leaf, the whole Autumn Gold tube and half of my Ebony & Antique Gold tubes for all of my projects. I used the wax on a kitchen curio cabinet, a decorative pedestal, a small living room cabinet, 2 mirrors, and a second desk. I additionally applied leafing to the second desk and the small living room cabinet. Not one of these projects is a dud! The metallic waxes are highly pigmented, super metallic & shiny and a no-brainer for an easy metallic project. If you are thinking of dabbling in metal leafing, I highly recommend the Simple Leaf due to its stress-free application. Both products come in a wide range of colors and the Simple Leaf even has some textured products too.