How to antique silver leaf.          

About gilding with silver leaf

Silver Leaf Mirror Frame – Oil based method

For this demonstation we will be aging and antiquing Genuine Silver leaf. For a full tutorial on applying silver leaf to this mirror frame please visit Gilding with oil size.

About Antiquing

Antiquing is the process of aging a surface to produce a time-worn appearance. There are many methods of antiquing objects, furniture, mural paintings and wall surfaces. These include paint effects, waxes, weathering, physical distressing and accent- antiquing that mimic the natural aging process by replicating such things as fly specks and worm holes.


Step 1:

The Antiquing Process.

The antiquing of genuine Silver or Gold leaf is a three stage process. I’ll begin by lightly distressing the leaf, wearing it away to reveal some of the under color. This mimics the physical distressing that would happen naturally over time due to rubbing or cleaning of the frame surface. Wrap a small ball of 0000 steel wool in a strip of cheese cloth and create a small ball or distressing pad. The cheese cloth helps soften the abrasive quality of the steel wool. 

Note:Genuine Silver leaf and Genuine Gold leaf are approx. 0.5 microns thick, so thin that you can wear through the leaf quite easily. Imitation Gold and Imitation silver is approx 3 microns, and thick enough that it makes it difficult to wear through the leaf. Therefore, Step 1 only applies when gilding with Genuine Gold or Silver leaf.


Step 2:

Gently rub the Silver leaf with the distressing pad in even motions. You’ll soon notice the base color being revealed.


Step 3:

Apply a clear coat sealer

Before I apply the final colored antique glaze it is necessary to seal the Silver leaf with a clear coat to protect the luster and shine of the leaf, as well as creating an oxygen barrier so the Silver does not naturally tarnish over time. Rolco’s Acrylic Top Coat Satin sheen sealer is an excellent product for this purpose.


Step 4:

Apply the antique glaze

My goal is to imitate the natural color of lightly tarnished Silver leaf. On a paper palette, I’ll place my three artist oil colors and loosely mix a blend in equal proportions. Mixing as you go, rather than creating a batch of pre-mixed color, works well for this treatment, as subtle variations in color add to the natural aged and tarnished appearance. 


Step 5:

Loosely apply the glaze over the entire surface using the ¾ inch Flat Artist Brush.


Step 6:

Take a clean rag and rub off the majority of glaze, leaving a thin film over the surface. A 1 inch dry brush will help soften the color out of the recesses and crevices of the frame. 

Antique Glazes and Aged Finishes
Antique paint glaze

Antique Glaze Create the perfect antique finish. Furniture, objects, paintings, wall and ceilings. Our exclusive line of custom antique glazes are idealy suited for interior and exterior applications. This acrylic based medium is eco-safe, easy application and clean up, with enhanced color saturation. Great for all weather conditions. Pre-mixed colors for historic application, thematic and geographic design styles.


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