Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Metal Leafing Flakes

Recently I had an e-mail from Sandy asking if I had ever used Gold Leaf flakes. She went on to explain that she had bought a bottle several years ago because it looked so pretty in the store but after opening it the first time and sweeping up the mess she hasn't touched it since. She never even used it on a project and wasn't even sure how she would stick it to a project anyway.

....Sound familiar?

I know there are lots of people who are intimidated by these light and fluffy metallic gems. Once you get past the fact that you're going to make a bit of a mess you'll thoroughly enjoy playing with this shimmery mass of goodness! I know I sure do!!

There are all sorts of leafing options out there but we're going to focus on the leafing flakes. They are available in a variety of packaging from a assortment of manufactures. I have a few different types in my collection but the one I use most often is Sepp Leaf Tamise flakes. These particular flakes come a wide variety of color combinations which produces interesting variegated finishes. I find that this type of flake adds such depth and faux texture you just don't get from the individual colors. You can also find flakes from USArtQuest Guildnglitz; Arnold Grummer Metallic Dust (just smaller bits); Fashion Flakes; Designer Leaf

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You can see from the photo that these flakes are ultra thin bits and pieces that are light as a feather. This was just a small puff of flakes from the box. Trust me when I say a very little bit goes a very LOOOONG way!

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Now, some places want you to believe that you have to have special adhesives to use these flakes. That may be true if you were working with fine art pieces, walls, ceilings or objet d'art but when it comes to paper arts, collage or altered arts don't let 'em fool you. I have tried many many different adhesives I have on hand with a variety of luck. (more on that later)

Let's take a look at one of the easiest methods to apply these leafing flakes to your project....

1. Run a line of *adhesive where desired.

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*NOTE: If a larger area is to be covered be sure to see below for other adhesive alternatives.

2. Sprinkle the leafing flakes over the adhesive.

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3. Press the flakes into the adhesive and brush excess away with a soft bristled brush.

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Now, some people like to burnish the flakes for a smoother finish but I like the texture created by just pressing and brushing away. Experiment and see what look works for you.

That's it...that's all there is to it! Pretty cool huh?

Now I know alot of people are concerned about the mess...if you place your work inside a shallow box lid or other container it will help keep most of the errant flakes corralled but don't expect them all to stay put. After all, nobody will know you were playing if there isn't a little evidence strewn about ;)

Leafing Adhesive Alternatives -

Now besides the "special" leafing adhesives which can be costly and/or difficult to locate there are loads of adhesives that can be used. Below you will find examples of many different types - both dry (like the tombow, ATG or red-line/magic tapes) as well as liquid adhesives shown. Hopefully this will give you an idea about how each one performs.

Just a note on the liquid adhesives. It is best to apply the adhesive, let it set for a few seconds then add the flakes. It's better if the glue drys a bit and gets tacky before adding the flakes. You will notice that some didn't cooperate in this department (Mod Podge in particular).

I'll let you decide which ones are your favorite.

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Well, now that you've seen them all I will tell you which are my favorite types of adhesives to use....

My favorite wet adhesive is the Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue. It is thick enough that you don't have to wait a long period of time to dry and it holds marvelously. It can be spread pretty thin but is still thick enough that it yields very good coverage.

Dry adhesive hands down is the Red Line or Magic tape...you know the tape that has the peel off backing paper. I LOVE how easy it is to use and how crisp the lines are when you're finished. When I want a more random look without the clean lines the ATG or Tombow adhesives are my other dry choices (either works very well). They are sticky enough for the flakes to stick easily and offer a very good coverage unlike some of the other dry adhesives.

So, now that we've taken a look at the various adhesives that can be pair with the flakes, tomorrow I'll share a technique to put these flakes into action...


  1. This info is beyond fabulous! Thank you. I have tons of leafing and efforts have sucked quite frankly. This is extremely helpful and I can't wait to see what you show us tomorrow.

  2. This info is absolutely great Roni! I just bought some gold leafing and was not sure what adhesive to use. I didn't want to buy the expensive stuff and now I don't have to! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. What a great article! You make it look so super easy to use the flakes and they amazing. I've seen metallic leafing in the store but skipped right past them because it looks difficult!

  4. Great information - and wonderful effects. I have a box of the stuff but forget to use it!
    But you have inspired me...
    PS Thanks for mentioning our challenge.
    PPS The word verification is 'nitin' - I bought some wool yesterday whilst out with my mum and have just started making something for the first time in year, lol!!

  5. I'm so glad you're demoing the gold leaf--I have 4 different colors that I haven't been brave enough to experiment with.

  6. Hi...TYVVVVVM! Now I can use mine! u are great! Cher

  7. I have looked at gold leaf but been rather scared of it. Now I know what to do, I will probably be tempted to buy some!Thanks for the tips

  8. Great informative post Roni, Thank you , as usual very helpful, what a star you are, JAQI

  9. I have never seen such huge boxes of leaf flakes like that before. I love using leaf on polymer clay and a huge box like that would be fantastic! Is it very expensive? I can see they only sell wholesale and am curious about what a box like that goes for before I go and try to set up an account with them.


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!