DIY Silver Lining

When Mr. Blandings and I started dating I lived in a small apartment building, on a street of small apartment buildings, that was built between the Wars on the Plaza.  I’d told him I needed to hang something and he’d offered to help and asked for my hammer.  Fiercely independent I was already struggling with the “help” part when I handed him a high heeled shoe.


“What’s this?”  “It works fine.”  “You can’t hammer nails with a shoe.”  “Never mind, I’ll do it myself.”  Or something like that.

He bought me a hammer and a cordless drill (a miracle of modern technology that I have treasured ever since) and graciously allowed me to do it myself happily ever after.

He did draw the line when he came home to our first house to find me standing on our deck railing holding a broom handle that I had put a nail in to string white lights into trees eight feet over my head.  It was Mrs. Grizwald’s 30th birthday party.  It needed to be done.  On and on about broken bones and laying in a heap for hours undiscovered while I stood on my toes fifteen feet above the ground to get it right.

So he was not surprised to find me standing on his grandmother’s red and shabby chair in our sitting room silver leafing a vine on the wall.  This was well over a year ago and we were having a dinner party and I had the itch to do something, even though this would never be seen by my guests.  It is a little bit like my friend’s husband who washes the car before entertaining; it makes him feel like he’s doing something.

So, I did some vines as if they were coming out of the windows.  It was sort of a cross inspiration of Gracie Wallpaper and the vines that actually do grow in through the windows of Rose Tarlow’s house.
I started, then stopped.  I couldn’t decide if I liked it that much and eventually lost interest.  But I picked up my brush again last weekend.  Maybe what it needed was more.
I had read in Durwin Rice’s book that leafing is easy and it truly is. Like almost anything creative I do it only requires pre-school skills.  

The beauty of this little project is that I can do it a vine at a time, as little or as much as I like.  Also, unlike reading or writing, I can work on it while the boys are talking to me.  Which they are.  All the time.

Basically I sketch the vine, trace it with sizing, read for 30 minutes while it sets, put on the leaf then brush off the excess.  Easy-peasy.

It’s coming along and my jury is still out, but it’s keeping me busy and it’s keeping me sane.

There are a few spots that could use a little going over.  But I like the way the light plays off the silver leaf and how it changes as the light moves across the room throughout the day.  And I like that I’m doing it myself.
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20 thoughts on “DIY Silver Lining

  1. Oh, it is beautiful! Good job. I laughed about the boys talking all the time. My chatterboxes are grown. Enjoy!!!!!

  2. I love this multi-layered post and the reference to Rose Tarlow’s real vines.

    Does she also have a subtle silver paper? What you are doing reminds me of that. I’m trying to decide if I like the idea of adding more and more, or stopping. The silver is good with the chair too.

    Oh and thanks for the silver leafing tips!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement! And, Courtney – we’ll see how it far it goes. Certainly not the whole room – I think I’m pretty close to being finished. The opposite wall needs a bit as well.

  4. I love it! Are you using sheets of silver leaf? I can picture thse on a wonderful pot or urn as well Everytime I read your column I want to try something new or buy another book (Durwin Rice’s)!

  5. looks great! i silver-leafed a mirror in my house… it does make a mess… but the results are so worth it! great job!

  6. Yes — a brillant project! The whole room will look amazing by sunlight; the dimmed light of a chandelier or by candlelight! Thanks for the inspiration! (and for the chuckle about your boys too! LOL!)

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  7. Love it! Very Gracie wallpaper- and I do love the real vines that Rose Tarlow has…Sent you an e mail about a sale that Smith and Hawkin is having- lovely topiary shapes for the patio.
    -Linda

  8. STUNNING! This is just wonderful. So much more sophisticated than just using flat and gloss paints to make the shimmer. Good on ya!!!

  9. This is most excellent work, Mrs. Blandings. I agree more is better. It looks very professional. Was there a difference in tone between the old and the new? I’d heard it tarnishes and gives an even better color.

    I want to suggest another tool for your kit. The Black & Decker BDL170Bullseye Laser level and stud finder (no cracks). This little jewel can up a laser line that even goes around the corners and will even mark dots for where your pictures should hang by dividing the space equally. You’ll wonder how you got along without it. It’s super.

  10. Karena – yes, sheets of silver leaf. I’m careful, but not manic.

    Meg – when I took my first break I tried paint instead. No where close. This is much better and worth the effort.

    halcyon – I do think the older “vines” are more subtle, so, yes, a bit of tarnish is even better. And thanks for the advice – I’ve wondered about that tool and now will pick one up this weekend. I’m forever trying to divide 3/4 in half.

  11. simply. stunningly. exquisite.

    and on a rather unrelated note, thanks for taking my suggestion on Sunday re: tagging & Mr. B. Yes, that was me as “Anon”, just too lazy to sign on then. You don’t have to post this last part. Just wanted you to know I am always the faithful reader.

  12. I am a leafing fanatic, but I’ve never attempted to do it. I heard it was actually hard – your’s looks so good!! And I love your “go get ’em” attitude!

  13. My Mom turned me onto your blog today. I’m looking for some ideas for the walls in my new place (I’ll be a first time home owner next Monday!) and I think this is just the thing I need to do.

    Thanks!

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