Pretend Alchemy: Turning Silver into Gold

Posted by Margo Anderson on

For the Queen of Margonia gown, I knew I wanted a wide gold trim that looked like embroidery.  I fell in love with this trim:

I ordered a yard of it to experiment with. This is always a good idea when you're planning a major purchase. I'm glad I did, because when it arrived, I was disappointed to find that it wasn't the rich gold in the picture. Instead, it was a light beige-y gold with a green cast to it. But I still loved the design, so I sought a solution.

Paint wouldn't work, because gold paint looks like gold paint.   I thought about dying it, but I'm not skilled enough at dying to be sure of getting the color I wanted. Also, the trim is made of plastic, basically, and it might not absorb the dye.

What I wanted was something that could be applied to the gold trim, that was transparent and would sit on the surface and change the color.  I went to my art supplies and found a brownish yellow Sharpie marker.  It worked perfectly!

Then I discovered that that color Sharpie is very hard to find.  But wait, what's in Sharpies? Alcohol ink! Alcohol inks are available at arts supplies stores as well as at big box retailers like Joann and Michael's.  They come in little squeeze bottles and are non-toxic, acid free, and all that good stuff.

I purchased several shades of yellow and light brown inks, thinking I could mix my own colors, but what worked best for me was a plain bright yellow.  I diluted it with rubbing alcohol to make a light wash, and applied it with an almost dry brush. The result looked wonderful.

BUT...I'd already made all those jeweled ouches, and I found that they really didn't show up well against the gold trim.  What would work was a gold and silver trim where the silver was placed in a way that would frame the ouches. 

Luckily, the same trim comes in silver.  I bought ten yards and hand painted it all. Amazingly, one 5 ounce bottle did the whole job with a bit left over.  


And here's what it looks like with the ouches:


Alcohol inks are a wonderful medium.  You can use them on any non porous surface.  Here's another of my projects.  I found these sliders at Michael's (actually I had to go to three different Michael's stores to find enough of them) and thought they'd be perfect for a girdle, but they only came in silver, with clear crystal settings.  I painted the silver parts gold and the crystals with red and purple.  

I'll probably give them a coating of clear acrylic spray to make sure the color doesn't rub off, or dissolve if I spill my martini on my girdle. 

The inks can be cleaned off non porous surfaces with alcohol. If it gets on porous surfaces, it's going to stain, so be very careful to protect your work surface and clothing. For the same reason, you might want to wear gloves when working with it (she says, looking down at her Simpson colored fingers).  

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  • I hope this question isn’t too gauche- but I’m looking for wide silver trim just like this! Would you be willing to share your source?

    Kairi on
  • Oh! I was just wondering about an effective way to color cheap metal fittings for a project. This may be the answer clever Margo!

    Katherine Barich on

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