Sunday, October 23, 2011

Merit Badge: Silver Leafing

If DIY was the boy scouts, we earned some sort of kilimanjaro summiting merit badge this weekend.  We made, and silver leafed, a frame for the massive painting in our living room.

I hadden't really thought about the magnitude of this project because I wasn't in charge of it, my dad was.  After a bright and early run to Home Depot, he arrived yesterday morning with molding, silver leaf, black paint, and several types of glue in hand.  Also a saw and a miter-cut guide.

Aaron started wondering what happened to his relaxing Saturday.

We got to work.

Aaron went to the storage locker to get another identical and unused canvas for us to use as a guide for the frame.  All of a sudden the maddening fact that they came in packs of three became useful, score.

We used our bedroom as a work area, being the only remaning large area uncovered by a rug.

Aaron and dad started to measure the molding to make the frame.  I should note here that we really did just use regular molding, like you would put on a window or a door.

Dad, excited he had a young son-in-law to handle the labor, watched over Aaron as he cut the molding with a hand saw.

In the meantime, dad also brought some shiny black paint to spruce up the 'mass of matte black' on the right side of the painting.  This is the painting post shiny black sprucing.

Alright, all the cuts have been made.  I was told there were more than eight, because someone measured wrong, sad sad.  I came back to check out Aaron and dad assembling the frame, which was done with wood glue and nails.

Me, working hard, watching Aaron and dad put the frame together.

Well, that was exhausting so I needed to go take a break.  While I was on break, Aaron painted the entire frame black, because silver leaf needs a black background as a base.

After my break, I was called in to paint leafing glue all over the frame.

Leafing glue is very thin, like water that is slightly white.  When it dries, it is tacky, and stays that way for about an hour.  That's your window to leaf.

I had never leafed anything, but my dad was an expert, having leafed things in every home we'd ever lived in.  In his current apartment, he leafed the door hinges.

Leafing is not easy.  It involves taking wafer, wafer thin pieces of metal, in this case silver, and laying it over the tacky surface, and then rubbing it in with your hands until all the silver bits fall off.  We had two issues working against us: one, the leaf was so thin that when I picked it up it basically fell apart, oops, and we weren't sure we had enough, so I needed to stop ruining it.

Aaron was entirely uninterested in this part of the project, so he took a break while dad and I tackled the leafing.  Then I made him come back for moral support, and to take pictures.

Then, we were worried that the leaf was too bright, so we sent Aaron out for silver polish, which dulls it.

While he was out, we finished leafing, and took the frame off the guide, and put it on the real painting.

We decided that it looked amazing, and called Aaron and told him to turn around because we didn't need silver polish.  Such a good husband, wasn't even upset :)

Dad nailed the painting in place...

And then Aaron came back, and he and my dad hung the painting over the sofa after a long debate about how much measuring was useful.  I should note that my dad and I were exhausted by this point and probably poisoned by ingesting thousands of bits of silver, so Aaron had to work with those attitudes while hanging a massive painting.  We love you Aaron!

And this is what it looked like hung.

It was dark by now, seven hours after we started this project, so the lighting in the room wasn't that great, but I wanted to show you the final reveal as we saw it.

I love this picture of dad, staring at his work on the way out the door.

And this morning, much better lighting, so I snapped a few more pictures...

Ahh, done.  I spent quite some time this morning just looking at it, amazed we own it, amazed my dad painted it, amazed we survived the creation of the frame.

What do you think of the project? Have you ever silver leafed anything? Interesting in trying? Would love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. I like the lighting in some of your pics, the blue in your room is AMAZING! Been trying (with no luck) to convince my wife to let me use this color in our walls for years, think I'm going to do it without asking to see how she likes it... Your dad's painting is fantastic! However, I'm not sure I like the texture... I've been remodeling my house for close to 2 years now, don't you just want to kill those people on the HGTV and DIY shows? Make everything look sooo simple! :P