DIY Inspiration: Turn Glass Empties into Gilded Treasures

We saw these beautiful gold-leafed bottles by Tomas Kral in the most recent Readymade, and they inspired us to think about trying a similar project at home. After all, his lovely vessels started out life as pickle jars and soda bottles, and we’ve got plenty of both, washed and waiting to be repurposed at home. So we did some surfing to see how viable DIY gilding might be. See a roundup of what we found after the jump…

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Tomas Kral, the artist behind these bottles, uses a combination of traditional etching, engraving, and gilding techniques to achieve his beautiful finished product (a collection he cleverly calls “Upgrade”). Knowing our limits, we’ll stick to the gilding. Here are some different sets of instructions we found:

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Claire from poopscape uses a nifty adhesive paper to simplify the process (rather than using gold size, an adhesive that must be applied with a brush). Her step-by-step instructions, accompanied by great photos, seem super easy to follow, and she provides suitable warnings about managing flying gold dust and the other expected hazards.

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Martha’s instructions for gilding Easter eggs offer a few handy tips we didn’t see elsewhere, like: Rub your clean gilder’s brush on your hair before using it to pick up the sheet of gold leaf—it’s the static electricity that causes the gold leaf to stick to the brush. Also, they recommend using imitation gold leaf while you’re learning the technique (since the real stuff is so pricey).

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GoldReverre is the gilding studio of Australian artist Bruce Jackson, who specializes in gilding on glass (including some very cool pub signs). His site has a whole section devoted to information about gilding on glass. Evidently, old glass tends to wet better and is easier to work with than new glass. He also recommends cleaning your glass surface well with a product like Bon Ami (a non-toxic polishing cleanser).

These fantastic tips from Emilie’s post on AT:LA should also help you troubleshoot.

We imagine that with practice, this project could be a lot of fun... and we've got plenty of jars and bottles to practice on! Those with gilding experience, please feel free to weigh in.