Pinterest Challenge: Gold Leaf Map Art

Pinterest and I have a love/hate relationship right now.  I love being inspired, but its eye candy overload:  I get distracted from things I should be doing, like working on the as yet unfinished drywall repair in the bathroom.  Instead, I wind up working on projects I shouldbe saving for a rainy day – like my new office map art that I made with gold leaf.

It just so happens that it’s been pouring this week.  My blogging friends are also total enablers, and come up with awesome share spectacles like the Pinterest Challenge.  I have been able to resist the temptation previously (okay, I’ll admit that I have just been too swamped to participate), but decided I’d give it a shot using this pinned image as inspiration:

Original post found here.

After painting the study-o, I noticed some old (and might I add, hideously unfinished and uninspired) canvas in the closet.  Canvases this size aren’t cheap, so it’s better to reuse them if you can.  I simply took some leftover wall paint and covered the canvas to start fresh.

painted over canvas

I then began the painstaking process of transferring a map outline I found on the computer to my freshly covered canvas.  I guess you could say I went old school with my transfer method:

1.  Scale the computer image to size, print it out, and tape the pieces of paper together.

Step one of office map art

closeup of taped paper for map art

2.  Then, grab a pencil.

It all starts with a pencil.

Flip the entire taped paper image over, and using a strong light source (enough to somewhat see the dark outline through the paper), rub the pencil lead along every part of the outline.

old school transfer process with a pencil and computer paper

3.  Flip the image back over again, and using a more careful hand this time, trace along the outline.  When you lift up the paper, you’ll have a clean (and probably light) pencil outline of the transferred image.

old school transfer process with a pencil and computer paper

transfer process pencil outline

Next up:  the Midas touch.  I used an adhesive pen specially made for gold leaf and yet again traced along the map outline.  I also used the pen to color in entire sections.  Because the glue becomes tacky and ready for gold leaf in only five minutes, I took the project in small sections.

adhesive pen for gold leaf

The toughest part was not touching the gold leaf.  Exposure to finger oils can tarnish the leaf, and it’s hard not to apply each sheet as a whole.  To remove the extra, I used a soft paint brush.  Flakes can be reused for additional applications (and to fill in gaps), so I collected them in a bag to keep them from flying everywhere (those delicate little suckers will waft all over the place with a single breath).

gold leaf application

gold leaf closeup

After hours and hours of this process, I had as close to a finished product as I’m ever going to get.  A little sealer, and I was ready to hang my new study-o art:

gold leaf map art
gold leaf map art

gold leaf map art

gold leaf map art

gold leaf closeup

gold leaf closeup North America

gold leaf closeup Europe

gold leaf map art

I’m pleased with how it turned out.  I even like the imperfections that make it look worn and old (every office needs a few aged pieces).  So now that my Pinterest Challenge needs have been met, maybe now I can go back to the bathroom.

That didn’t sound right.

(Link up!  Sharing this post with Young House Love, Bower Power, Centsational Girl, and Ten June.)

Comments

  1. says

    Gasp, that is GORGEOUS! I like your gold version much better than the wood inspiration. Sounds like the process was a bit tedious, but boy those results are something to behold. Pinning it! So glad I clicked over from Bower Power…PS – I call my house an ugly duckling, too :)

  2. says

    Oh girl! I love that! I have a ridiculous obsession with gold leaf so I'll be sure to try out this project!

  3. says

    This is so stinking pretty!!! I'm glad you didn't sugar coat the process because when I first clicked the link I was like “I'm totally going to do this.” And now I'm just going to drool over yours!

  4. says

    This is lovely. Hell, this is ART. Forget DIY, this is straight up fine art. I don't think I would enjoy working with the gold leaf, however. (I'd probably be more inclined to just color everything in with a metallic gold pen. Or paint.)

  5. says

    Oh my goodness, this is soooo good! I definitely need to try something like this soon. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  6. says

    Wow that is a really cool idea. I think I want to try that but instead maybe use planets instead and cut the spheres in half and paste them on a board so they have a 3D effect. Thanks for the inspiration! Great job!

  7. says

    BEAUTIFUL! Really…just stunning! I'm a sucker for random projects that take me hours and hours, so this might just be up my alley. ;)

    Aloha,
    Charlie

  8. says

    Sarah on my gosh, this is amazing! Totally my style of project. I love maps, I love gold leaf, wow, bless you for spending all that time on this. It was well worth it! I'm going to share this on my FB page.

    Now I'm trying to figure out what I can gold leaf around here… :-)

  9. says

    This looks absolutely stunning! I wish I had the patience to try it myself :( haha. I'd never manager! How on earth did you not blow the leaf everywhere? I'm so clumsy I can't even imagine being that precise.

  10. says

    First time to your site, popped over from YHL…you did a gorgeous job on this! I'm a reluctant commenter in general, but felt the need to offer kudos on a diy well done and say thanks for the shot of inspiration :)

  11. says

    Also came over from YHL… I've been wanting to do something like this in watercolor. Where did you get the map outline?

  12. says

    Came here from YHL and I love your project! I'm very interested in trying to tackle this project over the winter.
    Some quick questions: how big is your canvas and could you give me some more info on how you scaled the map picture to fit the canvas?
    Thanks!!

    • says

      The canvas I believe is 24 x 48 inches. I used the image that I found (see above for the link) and scaled it to size on the computer with Paint. Then I resized to the canvas size and printed it out so I could tape each piece together. It wasn't very simple, so I bet there are easier ways!

  13. says

    • says

      It was a used canvas, so all I did was paint over the existing art with flat white wall paint. As for the sealer, you can see in the photo above where I took a picture of the glue pen I used. There is a small bottle in the background (fuzzy but it's there). That's the sealer. Both are made by the same brand and you can usually find it right next to the leaf and glue. Hope that helps!

    • Sarah says

      Thank you! Took a few hours, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

      • Tumtum says

        Hiya. I’m so loving this! But don’t think mine would be as perfect looking. Wanted to know if I could pay you to do me one. Maybe not as large but still quite big. I live in the UK. Let me know! Thanks.

  14. says

    This is GORGEOUS! So very pretty it makes me want to do one of my own. I’d use it as a world-travel map with pushpins of one color for the places I have been and pushpins of another for the places I want to go.

  15. Lily says

    This is gorgeous! I stumbled upon your site through a search for maps. Where did you get the gold leaf and how much did the supplies cost to make this? Thanks! It’s so amazing!

    • says

      I got the gold leafing kit from Michael’s crafts. Not sure of the cost anymore, but not actually all that expensive (I had the canvas already from a previous art project, so all I had to buy was the gold leafing). So perhaps less than $20.

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