Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guilt-Free Gilt!

I found a Venetian grotto-style piano stool in a catalog several years ago.  You may have seen photos of it here on the blog.
I was a little intimidated by it.  I wanted to gold leaf the piece, but I cringed at the thought of all those tiny crevices.

So, like many a well-intentioned project, it sat.

Until last night...

I am in between coats of pain on my Louis XVI secretary, so I thought I would tackle this while the paint dried.

Instead of gold leaf, I chose to faux finish.  Much simpler, faster and a lot of fun!

Also, far less expensive than buying an antique Venetian gilt grotto chair at auction!

My stool, found at Van Dyke Restorers.

Inspiration came in the form of this Venetian gilt grotto chair ...

More inspiration from Christie's.

The "real" giltwood Venetian grotto chairs are very expensive.  For example, the gilt and ebonized version from Christie's sold for $5,000!

Following, you will find the steps I used to transform my dull, black piano stool into a magnificent work of Venetian art!

A little hyperbole never hurt anyone.

It is pretty, though!

Step One:Pure Gold Acrylic Craft Paint.  Dab it on with the tips of your brush.  I used a large chip brush.

Step Two: Burgundy Acrylic Craft Paint...brush on and wipe off immediately.  I apologize for the poor lighting.  This was done at night.

Step Three: Antique Gold Acrylic Craft Paint...brush on and dab off with cloth.  You will pull some of the other layers off.  This is a good thing!

Add more Antique Gold Craft Paint, stippling, rather than brushing, it on.
Sand lightly, then add Pure Gold and Antique Gold randomly.
Then add Burnt Umber Acrylic Craft paint and wipe off, letting it settle into the details...

Sunlit patina...

You can see the burgundy details here.  So pretty!


The patina changes with the lighting...

Detail of patina on foot...

Before and after...

This is the paint I used.  Total cost was about $3.00!

All of the gilt with none of the guilt!



Sharing with:

Courtney, at French Country Cottage, Feathered Nest Friday!


  1. darling. between the two of us we could light up the world with all the gold we have. Seriously I love anything gilded. Your grotto chair looks amazing. Have you use rub n' buff? It is like my bff for all my gilding projects.

  2. What a great job! Have you taken courses, Andie -- or are you GIVING them? At this point it ought to be the latter.

    The "gold" in my house appears sparingly in a couple of "japanned" case pieces and a Queen Anne-style armchair. Not being as clever or industrious as you, I bought them from second hand shops and have kept them just as I found them. The large English, Oxford green semi-antique secretary desk is a "married" piece, but all hand made. It looks like something from the 18th-century, but I'm pretty sure it is an old reproduction that was "married," then lacquered and "Japanned" in the late 19th century. Chippendale has never gone completely out of style, thank God.

    My other gilded treasures include a small genuine antique Italian rococo oval mirror with sculptured, gilded gesso frame, and a large Chippendale-style tall rectangular mirror with a beautiful ornate English rococo-style gilded frame. However it's a "fabulous fake" made of pressed plastic, I bought for thirty-five dollars. It hangs over a genuine serpentine-front hand-crafted mahogany chest of drawers,and looks wonderful. Makes the room as a matter of fact.. I wouldn't part with it for a thousand dollars.

    Anyway, I LOVE your Venetian piano stool, but WHERE is the PIANO? ;-)

  3. How do you find these treasures? You stool is incredible. I've never seen a grotto chair either. I learn something new from you with each visit.

  4. A million times richer.... Amazing presence demanding all the attention to its beautiful details.
    I also use all the paints you have shown here oh Jon pieces.

    A piano stool to love.


  5. Belissimo! A tinta faz milagres e hoje tem cores muito bonita que imita tudo. Amei o banco.
    Bjos tenha um ótimo dia.

  6. Awesome! I had never noticed the gold craft paint before. I have used Liquid Leaf on some pieces, but this looks just as good and costs WAY less. I see some faux gold leafing in my future.

  7. On bent knees I look up to you in awe. I have never seen a piano seat like this, it is so unique (at least in my world). You took it from spectacular to off the charts. It is now a work of beautiful art.
    Thanks SO much for sharing this project.

  8. Genius -this looks great, the finish is AMAZING! Did you do the entire thing in an evening or over a few days?
    I LOVE your large model of the arc de triomphe! What did you find that? I want one! We'll be in Paris over Thanksgiving for a week (yah!) but even if I found one there in a tourist shop I'm not sure how I would get it home in my suitcase!

  9. Amazing Andie. I always say it's not the paints used its the artistic talent, you did a beautiful faux transformation.

  10. Welcome back to blogland, Ms Andie! What a dazzling transformation!! I agree with Vera: it's your good eye and artistic touch. I love the top view down on the seat - brilliant! Cheers

  11. An impertinent question jus for fun:

    Is that stool FANNY FRIENDLY? §;-D

  12. That is truly stunning! The patina is amazing, I can truly see where all those layers really makes it fabulous!

  13. This is beautiful. I was wondering where you were going with the burgundy, but all the layers really make the effect you were looking for. Now I'm trying to think of what piece of furniture I can try this on. : ) On a different subject, I was wondering where you find all the different crowns I've seen in older posts? There were metal (?) Ones and a gorgeous gold wooden crown also. Love your blogs. Kathy


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