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Midas Touches: Flocking Together




Highlights of dark candles and orange-patterned accent plates add surprising contrast to a formally set dining table. Large resin turkeys that were gilded with faux gold leaf create a centerpiece, while smaller plastic ones, similarly treated, preen around the table with molded beeswax turkey candles. At each setting, elegant gold-rimmed plates and glassware contrast with the rough-hewn, stripped wood of the rustic table. A napkin was folded accordion-style to evoke a turkey with its tail unfurled and then affixed with a store-bought embossed golden Dresden ornament. A variety of antique silver and mother-of-pearl-handled flatware add to the reflective richness. Even the knife rest and the bread and butter plate continue the avian motif.

Gold-Leaf Turkeys
We used faux gold leaf for this project, but metallic floral spray (see the Guide) also works well. If painting, you will need only the turkeys and the paint. Use the same method and medium if doing multiple projects, since colors and finishes vary. It takes about 20 large sheets of gold leaf to cover a large turkey and 3 for a small one.

Turkey Napkin Fold
The accordion folds of the napkin suggest a turkey's tail feathers. A golden Dresden ornament embossed with a turkey makes a fitting finishing touch.

Return to Midas Touches.


  • For Gold Leaf Turkeys: Resin turkeys
  • Acrylic paint in a pale, neutral color
  • 2 paintbrushes
  • Size liquid adhesive
  • White cotton gloves
  • Faux gold leaf
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • For the Turkey Napkin: Table napkins
  • Gold twine or ribbon, cut to 6-inch lengths
  • Glue dots
  • Golden Dresden ornament in a turkey pattern


  1. Step 1

    Paint turkeys with acrylic paint. Let dry.

  2. Step 2

    Use second paintbrush to apply adhesive to turkeys. Let dry.

  3. Step 3

    In a draft-free room, wear cotton gloves to lift 1 gold-leaf sheet from packet.

  4. Step 4

    Drape sheet over a turkey, and smooth with fingertips. Use the soft-bristle brush to even out the texture of the gold leaf and remove any flakes. Add another sheet (they should overlap slightly), and smooth. Repeat until the turkey is covered. Touch up any bare spots with adhesive, let dry, then apply gold leaf cut to size. Repeat with remaining turkeys.

  5. Step 5

    Fold the napkin in half lengthwise, and crease with your fingertips. Unfold. Turn 2 sides inward, stopping halfway to the center crease. Flip the napkin over.

  6. Step 6

    Beginning at an unfolded edge, accordion-fold the napkin at equal intervals.

  7. Step 7

    Tie the napkin at its center with twine or ribbon.

  8. Step 8

    Fan out the folds so the top edges meet and the bottom edges remain apart. Apply a glue dot to the twine or ribbon, and press the back of the Dresden ornament onto it.

Martha Stewart Living, November 2007



Reviews (7)

  • AndrewCampbell 26 Aug, 2013

    Turkeys and other birds are not that easy to work on because the details on their feathers require intricate brushing/spraying techniques in order for the end result to look realistic. I have tried with a much smaller turkey but have it painted and then spray painted over in an antique silver finish. Now I have much more confidence to try working on a much bigger turkey.

  • cmor716915 17 Nov, 2011

    I went to a ceramic store that has classes and bought 2 large turkeys in a white biskque and spray painted them gold. They look great and the cost was about $30.00. Every year I take them out for Thanksgiving.

  • passionforitaly 23 Nov, 2008

    I just purchased two large resin turkeys at Hobby Lobby - store is currently having 1/2 off price Thanksgiving sale - they originally were $19.99 each. I plan on painting them with brilliant gold paint. Birds are very detailed in feather markings. I looked for a few wks to find them also and almost gave up. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • BrentwoodBabe 27 Oct, 2008

    I checked every craft store

  • Learner10 20 Aug, 2008

    Does anyone know where to purchase these large resin turkeys? I have never been able to find one. As an aside, the fake gold leaf is fun to work with.

  • jrhopper333 1 Feb, 2008

    I think gold leaf turkeys are a fabulous idea! The colors are great together and the color scheme is so sophisticated. Another great idea to make our holidays different! Thanks Martha!

  • Vickie_R_1 17 Jan, 2008

    PUH-LEEZE! Gold leaf resin turkeys! This ranks right up there with the silver-painted chicken wishbones for napkin rings. Martha, ordinarily I like your crafts, but each year I see that on the website, i send it to my friends as a joke e-mail. I'm afraid gold leaf turkeys ranks up there with the wishbones!