DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders


Do you want to learn how to DIY some gold leaf candle holders? Here are the steps to create some authentic gilded style candle holders.

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I was out and about looking for vintage items when I stumbled across a pair of vintage wall sconces (AKA wall mounted candle holders). At one point, someone had half heartedly tried to paint them white. They looked a little sad and because of that – they were extremely affordable. (As in $5 for the pair).  

Sconces Before Gold leaf applied

In spite of their current condition, I thought they had some hidden potential. You can see that originally, these wall candle holders, were a gold color. I thought it would be nice to return them to the original color but adding a bit more sparkle and depth.

This process can really be used for a variety of projects including applying gold leaf to picture frames or mirror frames. In general, this technique works well for any decorative pieces with lots of detailed carving. It also can be used for votive holders or other candlestick holders.

So with that – let’s jump in. I will walk you through the steps for making these DIY gold leaf candle holders. I have found gold leafing items is a fairly easy project and an inexpensive way to create some custom pieces for your home.

DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders

The first requirement for any project is to gather your supplies.

Supplies gold leaf candle holder

There are a variety of metal leafing colors. For example, you could apply rose gold, silver or copper leaf to your DIY candlestick holder. You don’t have to use sheets of gold leaf. Just a note, the gold leafing should be used only for decorative purposes since the materials are not considered to be food safe.

Step 1 – Prep your Candle Holders

For best results, clean your candle holders well. Simply scrub your existing candle holders with a degreaser (Ex: Mr. Clean, Dawn dish soap, Krud Kutter) to ensure any existing dirt, grime, dust, candle wax or grease has been removed. I used a toothbrush to scrub the nooks and crevices of the candle holders. Then I dried them well using a clean fluffy towel.

Step 2- Apply the Gold Leaf

If you have ever worked with gold leaf before, you know that the foil is very thin and the slightest breeze can make it a challenge to apply. So, try to work in an area that is away from any vents, fans or drafts.

Applying Gold Leaf to Candle Holder

Working in a small area, brush on the sizing to the candle holder. Make sure you get the sizing into the smaller nooks and crevices. As you can see in the photo above, I applied sizing to the first 1/3 of the candle holder and then applied the gold leaf. I laid the foil on top of an area brushed with sizing and then used a separate dry paint brush to tap it down.

I repeated this process until the entire candle holder was covered with gold leaf. When you are done, the gold leaf will look rough and there will be areas where the gold leaf did not adhere to your candle holder. This is absolutely OK. Don’t worry about it.

Step 3 – Apply Lighter Yellow Metallic Gold Paint

Once your gold leaf has been applied and has dried a bit, you are ready for the next step. Use a paint brush to lightly brush on the lighter of the metallic gold paints. The secret to this project working well is layering. Shh – I Just gave you the biggest secret of this whole project.

Applying lighter metallic gold paint

The photo above shows you how the candle holder looked as I was applying the lighter color metallic gold paint. Notice, towards the bottom of the sconce, that the gold leaf is missing from small areas. This is ok.

The metallic paint is applied over the gold leaf foil. I used a small paint brush so I could access all the corners and crevices in the sconce.

Once you have painted your candle holder, set it aside to dry to the touch. I let my paint dry for about 45 minutes.

Step 4 – Apply Darker Amber Metallic Gold Paint

You will simply repeat the process above but this time using the darker colored metallic paint.

Applying the darker metallic paint

You can see in the photo above, that you just generally apply the paint to the candle holder. You don’t need complete coverage. I would aim for about 60-70 % coverage over the existing paint. As I was working, if I felt the paint was too thick in certain areas, I used a damp paper towel to lightly wipe it off. The goal here is to be able to see the different layers of gold on the candle holder.

Once you have applied the darker metallic gold paint, let the candle holder dry for another 45 minutes or so.

Step 5 – Apply Antique Wax

By now, your candle holders should be looking pretty good with multiple layers of paint and gold leaf visible. The final step is to gently and lightly apply an antique wax. I used MMS Milk Paint’s antiquing wax. 

Applying antiquing wax

Again, I lightly tapped the antiquing wax over the top of the candle holder. Then I used a soft cotton rag to gently wipe off any extra. I really wanted the wax to get into the areas where dust would naturally collect, such as the nooks and crevices. The photo above shows wax being applied but not yet wiped off.

Once you are happy with the way the candle holders look, let them dry for a bit.

Step 6 – Enjoy Your DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders

Let me tell you, waiting for these candle holders to fully dry is the most challenging part of this project. I am naturally impatient and it just about kills me to have to wait for things to dry. However, I have learned my lesson the hard way. If I don’t wait for paint to fully dry – then it will inevitably come off or be removed inadvertently. So, while my sconces were laying flat to fully dry, I took the dogs for a walk.

Then I when I returned home after an hour or so, I hung up the candle holders.

Pin the image below to your Pinterest account if you want to remember how to make these candle holders in the future. 

DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders

This is much better than the “Before” version of these candle holders- right?

DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders

Here are a few more photos.

DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders
DIY Gold Leaf Candle Holders

Here is one final photo so you can see how the wax settled into the crevices of the sconce.

Other DIY Projects

If you liked this project, here are some links to some other DIY projects. These projects are all fairly easy to make and require only basic supplies.


Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration for applying a DIY gold leaf process to a vintage item. This is an easy way to make customized candle holders for a dining table. Which in turn can make a great personalized gift for someone. It’s also a perfect way to bring new life to a vintage item that you purchased for a song. 

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I have linked some other gold leaf candle holders below.

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    1. Aww. Thank you Rachel. I am always inspired by your love of vintage items.
      You are like a vintage soul sister.

  1. OMG, what a transformation! I love the candle holders … now! Thanks for the clear instructions and the suggestion of doing this on mirror frames.

    1. It really is an easy project to do. But – you definitely want to cover up your work surface. Don’t try it on your cutting board – because you will get gold flecks on your cutting board… and your mother in law might notice it when she stays at your home.

  2. What an amazing project, thank you for the clear instructions. I will definitely try this on the next rainy day.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment! It really is an easy and fun project to make.
      Perfect for a rainy day.

  3. Stunning transformation! Amazing to see what layering can do! I’ve always wanted to try gold leafing a worn treasure, thank you for the step by step instructions.

    1. Hi Susan! This technique also works great on mirrors and picture frames. I think you would love to try it one of those.

  4. Wow, Anna, this is amazing! They don’t even look like the same candle holders. I love how you added the gold leafing and layered in the paint and wax to give it the feel of an authentic patina. You are so talented and these are gorgeous! Loving and pinning as always, sweet friend. You nailed this one! Hugs, CoCo

  5. First, the candle holders are such a great find, especially at that price!! Second, you did an amazing job transforming them! I have never used gold leaf but it looks so fun, and I love the results! Can’t wait to try it sometime! The paint and dark wax helped show off the beautiful detail! Great job!

    1. It’s amazing how dark wax can completely change a piece. It instantly gives it an “aged” appearance. Thank you for stopping by and for commenting.

  6. Anna, what an amazing DIY project!!! You always create such beautiful decor. I really like how you used the gold leaf, but then blended with paint and finished with the antiquing wax. Brillant! Perfect aged look. I have never used gold leaf and you now have me all excited to try. Pinned of course! Love it my friend.

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