DIY Silver Leaf World Map


DIY Silver Leaf World Map

This project has been in the back of my mind since I pinned it over a year and a half ago.  I wanted to do it, but never quite got it started until the day I went to Hobby Lobby and all the canvas was 50% off.  That was motivation enough.  Frugality is the mother of invention too.

Gold really isn't in the color palette in our home so I choose to use silver leaf instead.  This truly was not super difficult, but it was really time consuming and tedious at times.  The steps are minimal, but plan for a few days because after a while you will want a break.

Step 1 - Tracing the World

Trace an outline map of the world onto the canvas.  I am lucky enough to be a teacher with access to a projector.  I simply searched an outline map of the world on the iPad and traced lightly with a lead pencil.  Now, you might have a tv projector at home or even a teacher friend that can help out, but if not, fear not, you can always make your own projector at home.  Some people are so innovative.

You'll see that there are many variations in perspective on the world maps, some with Greenland lower, or higher and some leaving out Antarctica altogether.  Choose your favorite.

Step 2 - Leafing

I choose to use liquid silver leaf and paintbrushes.  Outline the coastlines and the islands first, then fill them in with a larger brush.  You can see the strokes and even what order it was painted, but I think that adds character.  This process took two nights of about two hours.

Make sure you are in good light when doing your final touch ups.  The silver leaf can play tricks on your eyes.  When bringing the canvas outside to be sprayed, I noticed many areas that had missing silver leaf.

Leafing with actual silver leaf involves many intricate steps, especially with the world not being perfectly straight.  If you are up for trying, you need to buy the special adhesive and the leafing.  The good thing is that the leafing will only stick to the adhesive, but you would have to be very precise with where the adhesive was sprayed.

Step 3 - Cleaning

After all the painting is done, go around with your handy eraser and make sure you don’t have any pencil lines or smudges on the bare part of the canvas.

Step 4 - Border

With a small roller, I painted the sides of the canvas to create a frame effect.  I also added some curvature to the earth by edging onto the front of the canvas.  It made it look a bit old school, which I liked. To make sure the curves were equal, I measured in eight inches from each side corner and used a circular Tupperware top to create the arc.  This way, they were all symmetrical.  I actually free handed the curves with the paint.

Step 5 - Spray Sealing

This was a recommended step on the bottle of silver leaf that I purchased.  This acrylic clear coating was a matte finish.  I didn't want a glossy finish to take away from the silver leaf finish. Let it dry for a few hours before mounting on the wall.

Overall, I am pleased with the way this project turned out.  I do wish I hadn’t chosen a map with the perspective with Antarctica so large.  It somewhat looks like we are looking at the world from an angle below.  If I was to do this again, I might have totally left Antarctica out in the cold (get it?).

<3 mk

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