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Gilded Charger Plate

Use gold or silver leaf to gild an exquisite charger plate with this how-to from furniture expert Christophe Pourny.

Photography: Rob Tannenbaum

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, January 2012


Note: The same techniques can be used on any wooden object; we used gold leaf to create coordinating napkin rings.

Resources: Wooden plates available from Hofcraft. Leaf and leafing supplies from Gilded Planet and New York Central Art Supply. (Note: Leaf books are also available in palladium, aluminum, copper, and various colors.) Furniture tonics and information on furniture restoration at


  • Unpainted wooden chargers (large plates)

  • Gesso

  • Fine sandpaper

  • Clay bole

  • Linen scrap

  • Soft bristle brushes

  • Aquasize water-based sizing (glue for gilding)

  • Foam brush

  • Gold and/or silver leaf ("patent" or mounted on tissue paper)

  • Stiff bristle brush

  • Brown shoe polish (optional)

  • Steel wool (optional)

  • Wooden napkin rings (optional)


  1. Apply gesso to plate surface to prime and smooth any imperfections; sand.

  2. Apply clay bole to surface with a soft bristle brush. (This will create a neutral color base, which will make the gold or silver leaf more brilliant.) Let dry. Burnish clay surface with a small scrap of linen.

  3. Apply water-based sizing with a foam brush; let dry until clear. (Sizing will "stay open," or remain sticky, for about 24 hours.)

  4. Starting in the center, apply gold or silver leaf to sized surface. Remove paper backing and repeat with more leaf, overlapping the edges by about 1/8 inch. Continue until charger is covered. Let dry 24 hours. (Tip: Use talc or baby powder to keep leaf from sticking to fingers.)

  5. Apply brown shoe polish with steel wool to age piece (optional).

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