Applying copper leaf on glass is an artistically creative way to upgrade any vases, candle holders, or champagne glasses you have lying around. So, how do you do it? The process isn’t very complicated, though you will need a few tools to help you get started. In this article, we’ll break down how you can apply copper leaf to glass as well as give you a few ideas for small projects you could try involving copper leaf and glass surfaces.

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

Copper Leaf for Glass Surfaces

As mentioned, applying copper leaf over a particular glass surface can create stunning visual effects that will leave you wishing you had done it sooner. You can use copper leaf paper or transfer sheets for this type of gilding, and can use a sealant over the copper to protect it from tarnishing down the road.

This type of project proves relatively straightforward though there are a few supplies you’ll need to jumpstart the process. These include:

  • Copper leaf sheets
  • Cotton gloves
  • Gilder’s brush
  • Soft brush
  • Water based adhesive
  • Newspaper or drop cloth (to cover your work surface)
copper leaf on glass

How to Apply Copper Leaf on Glass

Once you’ve collected your supplies, it is time to start the gilding process. To lay copper leaf over a glass surface, do the following:

How to Apply Copper Leaf to Glass

  1. Start by preparing your work surface and readying your environment. You’ll want to lay newspaper or drop cloth first to prevent any copper leaf scraps from ruining your work area. You’ll also want to work indoors to prevent your copper leaf sheets from blowing around and potentially messing up your project.
  2. Next, you’ll want to prepare the glass itself. Do this by washing the glass, rinsing it, and drying it thoroughly with a lint free cloth.
  3. Once your glass is clean and dry, it is time to begin the gilding process. To start, we recommend you use water based size to help the copper leaf adhere to the glass. Without size adhesive, your copper leaf won’t stick to the glass surface. Do this by applying the adhesive with a soft brush. Do NOT attempt to apply the copper leaf right away.
  4. Allow your water based adhesive to become slightly tacky before applying your copper leaf. The adhesive will feel somewhat sticky to the touch.
  5. Using gloved hands, carefully pick up your copper leaves, remove the backing, and choose where you want your copper leaf to lay. Gently press your copper leaf in that area and use a gilder’s brush to help you further press your copper leaf upon the glass surface.
  6. Repeat the previous step using your copper leaf book until you’ve applied the copper leaves on all areas you desire.
  7. Use a soft brush or your gilders brush to gently buff away the excess copper lead left behind.
  8. Lastly, you may wish to apply a sealant to your copper leaf to prevent oxidation and tarnishing from occurring. While this step isn’t necessary for genuine gold leaf, it is a crucial step you’ll need to take for copper.
  9. That’s it! You’ll clean up your work area, allow your freshly gilded glass to dry, and enjoy the labor of your hands! You can easily add beauty to nearly any glass surface by applying copper (or even silver or gold leaf on glass) this way. So, be imaginative; the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can create!

What Types of Glass Items Can You Apply Copper Leaf to?

As mentioned, there are many ways you can utilize copper leaf on glass things. From vases to windows, doors, and more, the opportunities are virtually endless when it comes to upgrading glass surfaces with a copper finish. Other ideas include:

  • Jazzing up old wine glasses
  • Gilding glass lamp bases
  • Decorative tables
  • Sprucing up candle holders

Will Copper Leaf Tarnish?

Remember that copper leaf will tarnish if it isn’t properly sealed. Although genuine gold leaf doesn’t usually require sealant, silver leaf and copper leaf will. Thus, after achieving your intended outcome with gilding a particular glass piece, you’ll want to seal it with a top coat to protect the gilded item from becoming damaged.

How Do You Apply Copper Leaf to Glass? You’ll Need a Few Tools…

All in all, applying copper leaf on glass isn’t difficult, but it will require specific tools and supplies to get you started. Start by ensuring you’ve got high quality copper leaf, a water based adhesive, and a good sealant. You’ll also want to use a gilders brush, regular soft brush, and cotton gloves for proper application of the leaf.

We hope this helps!


I’ve torn my copper leaf. Now what?

If you’ve torn your copper leaf, don’t panic. You can still use it, though you may need to apply other smaller copper pieces to the glass surface to make up for any gaps, dents, or divets in the leaf. Use your gilder’s brush to press each piece into place. In the future, be sure to apply your copper leaf carefully, and avoid touching the leaf directly with an ungloved hand whenever possible.

Does copper leaf always require water based adhesive?

No. You can use either oil or water based adhesive for copper leaf. However, water based adhesive tends to work best for glass. It is important to note that only oil adhesive should be used if a certain item is to be placed outdoors. Thus, any gilded item placed outdoors requires oil size to prevent it from becoming damaged by various weather elements. 

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