I have had a love affair with metals ever since I can remember. I like all metals – even brass! (in small doses) – in most anything. I can even deal with patina although I don’t find the “love” in patina like many do (I’d much rather see the non-oxydized metal). I was searching for a small side table for our bedroom and found these beauties from Horchow:
| Horchow Scroll side table. image source here.
||Horchow Iron Side table. Image source here.
|Horchow Granite top side table. Image source here.
So I decided to see if I could make one that would match this lovely sunburst mirror that’s in my room currently with its sort of molted, mutli-colored metallics:
I found this green metal stool/table thing in Marshall’s, for $11 on clearance. The green could be fun in the right room, but I loved the lines and shape for this project.
The paint was in good shape, no scratches or peels, and was sealed, so I didn’t have to sand anything down. After a good cleaning, I started by painting a meal primer and letting it fully dry. When adding paint layers to layers of paint that already exist, I always let my primer dry at least one full day because it’s the base that everything else lops on top and if not fully dried it’s easy to bump and scrape the top layers off. This is especially true for less porous surfaces such as metals, plastics, etc. (vs. more absorbent surfaces such as wood).
Once dry, I then spray-painted a bottom layer of black. As most people know, it’s critical to spray in light layers and not coat it. Nothing worse than trying to sand down paint drips, especially when dealing with metals that already have paint on them because it’s nearly impossible to get it completely smooth again (you may sand too deep and bet beneath the primer to the layers underneath).
The black layer base will be part of this design. I decided to metal leaf over the black to achieve my effect. I first painted on the adhesive, which goes on white like glue and let it dry until it turned clear (about an hour).
| black base coat
| adhesive coating left to turn clear
Next I used mixed metal leaf flakes and poured them onto the table starting in the middle and working my way to the ends, patting the flakes down and brushing them towards the edges with cloth gloves (which, by the way, no home goods or craft store around me carry so I ordered them from Amazon; they are really cheap and the thumbs are hard to work in, but in the patting down using my hands was easier than using a soft brush, which is my preferred technique. The brush is best with metal sheets; using the brush with flakes ensures they fly everywhere and you lose them).
I deliberately made it blotchy and didn’t cover everywhere to let some spots of black shine through.
On the sides/legs, I used full metal sheets (the ones backed by wax paper) and crinkled up the paper to break apart the sheet and patted it down and ripped it off (rather than rubbing it on if I were going for a smoother, cleaner finish). I mixed up gold, copper and silver.
NOTE: I did this because I simply didn’t have enough flakes to do the outsides and insides, and I’d already painted the adhesive on the insides and outsides, so if I’d done the flakes the pieces would have fallen on the inside too, so with the sheets I could control it. The end result made the legs more copper, the main color I laid down, but still a good mix of metals.
I could have probably achieved a similar look with a good sponge and metallic paints and done a finish that way, and it would have been easier, less messy and taken less time. Using the metal leaf flakes creates a slightly better look of metal, and I like the angular “flaky” chunks vs. the circular pattern splotchiness that a sponge would have created, but it’s only really noticeable close up.
I sealed it with the metal leaf adhesive and let it dry.
Note: I do not recommend using a regular polyurthene or polyacrylic sealant on gold metal. I am not sure why but there is probably some chemical reaction or composition that doesn’t give the metal the same seal and hardness that the sealer especially for metal leaf does. Once dry, it’s pretty hard. I did a small test ding on this table just to see if I could, especially since there were several layers of paint and it did dent a tiny bit but didn’t chip. That doesn’t mean it can’t chip and I’m going to treat it with care but the metal adhesive is definitely better.
Overall I love this little table. I might get a glass top cut for it so that it’s more table-like.
If I had done it all in one color using metal leaf sheets, it would have been more Horchow-like, more like the original inspirations above. Note however that the most popular silver leafing available is quite bright - copper, silver and gold. When finished, the silver is almost a chrome like color, the gold is a brassy gold and the copper is the a shiny copper. To tone it down a bit, you can use a black or dark glaze over top and wipe it off (before you seal it, otherwise it'll just sit on top the sealer) but but do this carefully. The first layer of black also helps and don't overlap the sheets so some of the dark layer shines through.
• $11.00 clearance metal side table
• $7.99 sealer spray (use a coupon’s from Michaels for 40% off)
• mix of already owned metal leaf sheets – est. $8
• $10 bag of metal flakes (again use a coupon for a discount)
• Adhesive (I bought a huge can of this, but a $5 bottle would be enough to cover this whole thing)
Total: around ~$40
Time: 2 days (one full day for letting the primer dry)