We love using everyday items in unexpected ways to bring character and a healthy dose of chic into a space. (Anthropologie display window dreams, anyone?) So for a Spring decor refresh, we decided to do away with traditional framed pictures and canvas and instead decorate our walls with these bright painted and gold-leafed plates! The overall effect looks like a piece of sculpture installation art right in your own home.
We love peppering 3D objects in a gallery wall, but repeating just one unexpected thing like flowers, plates, or weavings to decorate the walls gives the space texture and a sculptural element you just can’t get with traditional artwork alone. See how we did our own affordable version of this show-stopping china wall art with some pops of color and gold foil!
Step 1: Clean your plates with rubbing alcohol. Fingerprints and other oils will mess with the flow of the ink, so give each dish a quick wipe down before you get down to painting business.
Step 2: Decide what colors you want your plates to be to go with your decor but also to convey the mood you want for the room. We chose 3 hues for a pop of color to put some serious spring in our step! Alternatively, shades of green or blue could give a seaside vibe, or a monochromatic palette could look super modern and streamlined.
Step 3: Time to get creative! Alcohol ink works like watercolors; the more plain alcohol you add, the more flow-y and muted the ink will be. With a higher concentration of ink, the colors will be way brighter and more defined. One trick we learned was to start with alcohol already on the plate and then add more ink according to the color you were trying to achieve. Have the ink in a cup nearby so you can brush it on rather than dropping it directly onto the plate- that way you can adjust as you go.
Step 4: If you’re having hard time getting the ink to dry the way you want, use a hairdryer to set the ink quickly. Do keep in mind that the air flow will push the ink around so you might want to hold the dryer far back to it doesn’t mess with your design too much. You can also blot away any dark spots you don’t like with a paper towel. At the end of the day, we found that we actually liked that each plate came out a little different the more we played with the ink! Really don’t like how it looks? Use rubbing alcohol to erase and start over!
Step 5: Time to add some shine! For more photos and detailed instructions on how to add gold leaf, check out our pot of gold Anthropologie vase dupe. For this project, we used a gold leaf pen set, but you can use any adhesive you like. Dab on the adhesive where you want the gold leaf to go. Let it dry a bit so the adhesive gets a tacky to the touch (if the glue is too wet, the gold leaf won’t stick properly).
Step 6: Place the gold leaf sheet over the glue. Rub down with your fingers so it fully sticks to the adhesive. Then gently peel back the paper to reveal your gorgeous gold leaf! We scrunched up the gold leaf a bit to give the plates some extra texture.
Step 7: When the plates are dry, arrange the plates on the floor or table to map out how you want to hang them on the wall. You can even snap a pic with your phone to make sure you like the final look. This is a great trick we adopted from planning out our gallery wall!
Step 8: Once you have them in a pattern you like, it’s time to hang the plates! You have a few options: you can use super glue to attach picture hangers to the backs of the plates and then nail into the wall to hang. After trying that, we decided we wanted the plates to hang flat against the wall so we switched out the metal hangers for easy 3M stick-on adhesive strips. Use 3 or 4 per plate to be sure you have enough to make the plates totally secured to the wall, and make sure to have them dry overnight.
We absolutely LOVE how our plate wall turned out! It gives the whole room a fantastic focal point filled with color, texture and light. Plus, if we ever want to switch it out, it’s easily removable.
Did you try this project? Tag us on Instagram and use the hashtag #bemakeful to show us how yours turned out!