Gold Leaf Brooches for Fall

DIY Gold Leaf Brooches 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!

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesSupplies:
-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)
-brooch pins
-permanent adhesive
-paint for background color (optional)

-silicone mold (I used this one.)
-paint brush

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep One: Warm the clay in your hands for a couple of minutes to make it easier to work with. Then pack it into the sections of the mold. You can use less clay for thinner brooches.

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.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep Three: If you aren’t using colored clay, you’ll probably want to paint the leaves with the color you would like to show through the gold leaf finish. It took 2-3 coats to cover my clay.

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.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep 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.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesStep 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.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesImportant 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.

DIY Gold Leaf BroochesDIY Gold Leaf BroochesDon’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.

Need a fun idea for displaying your brooches when they’re not pinned to your lapel? Check out this quick and easy jewelry display idea! –Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine of the Signature Collection.

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