I love a good pun, but not as much as I love a beautiful brooch! They're such a simple way to add personality to an outfit and look especially nice pinned onto a jacket lapel. I didn't have anything autumnal in my brooch collection though, so I thought I'd make some gold leaves to celebrate fall's arrival. These little guys are so easy to make, that you could easily make a bunch to string on a garland, to use as necklace pendants, or to create magnets! You can make your brooches any color, but I love the look of gold leaf, and like I said— I can't resist a good pun. Gold leaves!
-polymer clay in color of your choice (I used white because I already had some, but you could save yourself a step by getting clay in a color you want to show through the gold.)
-gold leaf sheets, sizing, and a sealant (only use water-based sizing and sealant)
-paint for background color (optional)
-silicone mold (I used this one.)
Step Two: Push the brooch pins into the clay to make indents. Then bake for the recommended time on the clay packaging. I baked mine at 270°F for 30 minutes (15 minutes for every 1/4" thickness of clay). Allow to cool before removing from the mold. Pull off the pins and set aside for later.
Step Four: Brush a light coat of sizing onto the painted leaves to prepare for the gold leaf sheets. If you have a gold leaf kit, it will come with sizing. I've seen people use Mod Podge for this too. Gold leaf sizing takes about 20 minutes to set up.
Step Five: Apply little pieces of the gold leaf sheets to the prepared leaves. It can be a bit tricky to get the paper into the crevices of the leaves, so I used a little paint brush to help push the gold leaf into those tight spots.
Step Six: Use a soft cloth to rub and burnish the gold leaf, making it nice and smooth. Rub a bit harder at the corners to remove the gold leaf and expose the color underneath. If you need to add more gold leaf in some spots, just repeat steps 4-6 on those areas.
Step Seven: Seal the leaves with a water-based varnish. You could use the sealant that comes with a gold leaf kit, but I've discovered it doesn't hold up well to water like a good varnish does. So I used this Minwax brand water-based Polycrylic spray.
Step Eight: Use a permanent glue to affix the brooch pins in the indents you made before baking.
Important Tip: Be sure to only use polymer-safe paint, sizing, and sealer on your leaves, or the polymer will degrade over time and turn into a gooey mess. I've learned that spray paint, nail polish, and oil-based paints are a no-no. Now I use water-based paints and a durable water-based varnish to seal my polymer creations.
Don't they look pretty? I think I might make some more using a light-weight polymer clay to create a cute little garland for my dining room. But for now I'm loving the little nod to fall on my vintage sweater cape.
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine of the Signature Collection.