Shiny DIY gold leaf painted rocks are very easy to make and a lovely pebble art idea. This quick and simple 15 minutes rock painting tutorial includes step by step instructions, tips for supplies and is excellent for beginners. The nature-inspired leaf design is beautiful fall decor and a pretty handmade craft idea to gift or sell.
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DIY Gold Leaf Painted Rocks – A Simple Painted Rock Idea & Craft Project for Teens & Adults
Perhaps, these DIY gold leaf painted rocks might not appeal to young kids, but it’s a fun craft idea for teens, older children and adults. I found painting rocks and the process of applying gold leaf to pebbles very relaxing and perfect to spend an hour crafting.
Using gold leaf to make painted rocks with leaves is a bit tongue in cheek. It’ll be autumn soon, and I thought it would be nice to have a seasonal DIY home décor. But honestly, these painted rocks look beautiful at any time of the year, and you can create any other design of your liking.
Rock painting with gold leaf
While there are a lot of products available to add shine and shimmer to surfaces, such as gold acrylic paint or spray paint, none of them compare to gold leaf. Gold leaf creates a beautiful, smooth and shiny surface that appears just like real gold. The warm, golden glow looks very stunning and elegant, and I love how light reflects differently at every angle.
I preferred the natural look of the stones. So I left the rocks uncoloured and didn’t use acrylic paint to colour the rocks. However, painting the rocks in warm, earthy tones or soft pastel hues would look beautiful as well.
Pin these pretty DIY gold leaf painted rocks for later
Decorating ideas with painted rocks
The elegant painted rocks can be used in many ways to decorate your home. The stones are beautiful décor for your mantel, windowsills, on sideboards and coffee tables. They look gorgeous as paperweights in the office and or on a fall tablescape. DIY painted rocks are also pretty homemade gifts and lovely elements to decorate weddings or parties.
What tools and materials do I need to craft DIY gold leaf painted rocks
Gilding rocks is quite easy to master. In addition to rocks, you’ll also need a few special supplies for gilding. Here is a list of all tools and materials you need to make DIY gold leaf painted rocks.
Supplies to start rock painting with gold leaf
It best to paint on smooth, flat rocks with even edges and no cracks. If you live in a city like me, it may be difficult to find rocks, but you can purchase them in craft stores, garden centres, and home improvement stores. Light stones and dark rocks for painting are also sold online.
Gold leaf is gold or other metals that have been hammered into a thin foil and is sold in sheets or sometimes rolls. Real gold leaf is very pricey, so I used imitation gold and rose gold from this set of 300 metal leaf sheets for this rock painting craft project. I also ordered this assortment of coloured metal leaf and can’t wait to use it for a gold leaf craft project soon.
Metal leaf adhesive
You need special gilder’s primer to apply the gold leaf. This water-based metal leaf adhesive form Speedball is specially formulated for gilding and perfect for all kinds of metal leaf projects. It cleans up easily with soap and water and stays tacky for 48 hours.
To avoid oxidation and discolouration, use a topcoat to protect the gold leaf from tarnishing. I used this fast-drying sealer from Speedball.
Gold leaf kit
In case you don’t plan to do a lot of gilding and metal leaf projects, it might be cheaper to buy this gold leaf kit, which comes with 25 metal sheets, a brush-on adhesive and sealer.
I used soft, round painting brushes to apply the adhesive and sealer, and a gilding brush to smooth out the gold leaf. This type of brush is useful for evening out the foil and lightly brushing away stray pieces to give a cleaner appearance and polished look.
Pencils & eraser
Use a pencil to sketch the outline of your design. Pencils are perfect for light rocks, while on dark rocks a white pencil will be better visible. You can use the erasers at the back of the pencils to remove mistakes, but I found that this soft, white eraser does an even better job to wipe away outlines.
Cotton gloves (optional)
Gold leaf is very light and flimsy and easily sticks to your fingertips. Yes, even after washing. Cotton gloves make it easier to lift and handle gold leaf. The only downside is that you won’t have as much control in your fingertips when applying the gold leaf as you have without gloves.
How to make painted rocks with gold leaf – Easy Step by Step Tutorial
Applying gold leaf to rocks is a quick DIY pebble art project and an easy rock painting idea for beginners. It took me about 10 minutes to decorate a stone with gold leaf (without drying time.) It’s a good idea to set up a small “production line” and work on several river stones at a time. So you can continue painting on rocks while other stones are drying.
1) Preparing the stone
Wash the rocks or pebbles under warm, running water to remove dirt and dust. The stones must be clean and dry before you apply gold leaf to ensure it adheres easily to the surface.
2) Outline the leaf shape
Use a pencil to outline a leaf design. When drawing the outline, let the shape of the rock define the design (e.g. beech leaves on small round rocks, oak leaves on long, narrow pebbles etc.)
While I made the drawing free hand, you can also trace a leaf template to outline the design. Looking at actual leaves or photos of leaves in books or online can be helpful when creating the sketch.
3) Prime the stone
Using a small soft round brush, paint the metal leaf adhesive in your leaf design. Fill out the entire shape and let dry for 30 minutes. I tried to be precise, but since we’re working on an organic, nature-inspired design, you don’t have to be super accurate.
I primed several pebbles at once so that the first stone was dry and ready for gilding when I was done with the last.
4) Apply gold leaf
After 30 minutes, the surface is tacky enough to hold the gold leaf. Then lay the gold leaf flat on your design. Use a piece large enough to cover the primed area. Gently rub the foil against the stone until the entire design is covered. The gold leaf only sticks to the primed areas. Be thorough on the edges to achieve a precise and crisp outline.
If you see tears or holes where the gold leaf didn’t stick, use small pieces to cover up imperfections.
5) Brush the stone
Gently pull off larger pieces of loose gold leaf. Then run a soft gilder’s brush over the stone to make the gold leaf adhere smoothly and brush away any excess. Holding the brush flatly on the stone helps to wipe off the tiny bits.
I stored the stored and saved the leftover gold bits in a jar to use in other craft projects.
6) Seal the painted rock
Apply the sealer as a topcoat to protect the design from oxidation and damage by handling or dust. The sealer will be dry to the touch after 30 minutes, but it may take a day for the stone to be completely dry.
- If necessary, wash the rock or pebbles to remove dirt and dust. Let the rocks dry for a couple of hours.
- Outline the leaf design.
- Prime the outlined shape with metal leaf adhesive using a small, round brush. Fill out the entire leaf shape and let dry for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, lay gold leaf flat on your design. Use a piece large enough to cover the primed area. Gently rub the foil against the stone until the entire design is covered.
- If you see tears or holes where the gold leaf didn’t stick, use small pieces to cover up imperfections.
- Using a soft brush, wipe away excess gold leaf and make the foil adhere smoothly to the rock. Holding the brush at a flat angle helps to whip away the tiny bits.
- Apply the sealer as a topcoat to protect the design from oxidation and damage by handling or dust. The sealer will be dry to the touch after 30 minutes, but it might take a day for the stone to be completely dry.
More easy rock painting inspiration
Carolina from 30 Minute Crafts, Angie from The Country Chic Cottage, and Carissa from I love Painted Rocks have curated a list of over 30+ stunning rock painting ideas that can be done in 15 minutes or less. Tab the image below to check it out!
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