FYI, when I first started doing papercrafts ten years ago, I tried every technique available to me at the time. I made paste papers with all sorts of stuff, did real leaf impressions (using a hammer, honestly!), used bubble wrap to make patterned paper, carved stamps from potatoes, stamped on canvas floor cloths, yadda, yadda. Some techniques worked pretty well but the results didn't make me very happy, and others didn't work for me at all and made me use dirty language, especially a variation on paper marbling using bubbles (add paint and dish detergent to a large flat pan of water, use a straw to blow bubbles, lay paper on top of bubbles, get--in my case--not much of anything but a reason to cuss).
When I discovered stamps, heat embossing, and ink, however, I knew I'd found a lovely, straightforward way to make art that made me happy. Clean and simple art. Art that had actual white space. Sometimes I wish I were an artsy, collage-type crafter, but mostly I focus on pretty, pretty white space. Which is why you come here, right?
Every now and then, though, those old techniques I tried just work for clean and simple, too. Gold leaf is one of them. See what I mean:
I rarely do techniques, much less ones that require glue drying overnight. Patience in artistic endeavor isn't my forte. But as soon as I saw PTI's new Through the Trees set, I knew I'd simply have to break out the gold leaf. It takes shiny to a new level, don't you think?
Real gold leaf comes packaged in really, really thin sheets attached to backing paper. You can buy loose sheets of gold leaf, but it's much easier and less frustrating to work with if you have the attached type. Like this.
Here's what an untouched sheet looks like:
Isn't that pretty?
To put gold leaf on paper, you need some sort of size like gesso or glue for it to stick to. I used The Essential Glue Pad and let it dry overnight. I've never gotten glue pads to hold glitter or much of anything else on a card, but gold leaf only needs a slightly tacky surface to stick.
Note for those adventurous enough to try this. Last time I used gold leaf, I didn't let the glue dry completely and made a total botch job of it.
Learn from my mistakes, Grasshopper.
Once the glue is dry, just put the gold leaf shiny side down on the paper and use a burnisher to get the leaf to stick nicely. A bone folder will work, but an agate burnisher is the real deal. You can even use it directly on the gold leaf and it won't stick. Not sure about the bone folder, which might be textured enough to rub the gold off if used directly on it.
Once the gold is attached, remove the backing sheet and brush off the excess gold with a clean and dry, firm-bristled brush. Experts know how to save the gold for future use, but I've never been able to pull that off.
And you're done. It's not hard to do, and other than the glue drying time, it's quick. This is an expensive technique (it is real gold leaf, after all, and the agate burnishers are not cheap either), but the effect is lovely, don't you think?