DIY Gold Leaf Watercolor Place Cards

Jazz up your next hosting event with these elegant DIY gold leaf place cards


Looking to spice up your next hosting event, whether it be a wedding, party, or a get together with the family?

If you like to have everything neatly organized, then place cards are a great decorative idea to organize and dress up any table. They can be used for big celebrations like weddings or even small intimate meetings. Everyone feels appreciated when they see their own names holding their place.

Place cards are simply a beautiful way to help people find their places, to eliminate confusing and awkward situations while adding a sense of sophistication. So if you want to get creative and add a customized touch to your next event, without forking out the big bucks, these diy place holders are a gem.

Let’s go over the materials needed (you can get everything online):

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1. Paper

Go for a fancy  parchment-like paper, that is tented in the middle. If you can’t find one that’s already tented, you can easily do it yourself. The cards must be tented as it allows your guests to see their names from almost anywhere.

These papers vary in thickness and texture, so you have many options to choose from depending on your needs.

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2. Pointed pen

The pointed pen will be used for your calligraphy writing, however you do have the option to choose any other pen that will work best for you… you can go for an oblique holder with the nib you are more comfortable working with, whatever works best.

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3. Protector

Since you’ll be working with watercolor and ink, make sure you have something to protect your work surface from splashes and spills. 

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4. Watercolor paint

You can use any color to suit the occasion, however in this article the focus will be on shades of green used to create leaves, which will complement the gold foil nicely. Again you can choose to change your design to benefit the occasion, so instead of using green leaves you could add grapevines, or red hearts, maybe no decoration at all, just a bit of calligraphy in black. 

Just remember to not overdo it, be minimalistic in your approach and get creative.

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5. Gold foil

When choosing your gold foil, try to get the gilded flakes that are made specially for crafts, while they can be super messy to work with, the end result is quite beautiful. You can easily find these online.

As a reminder, turn off all fans to ensure that your gold foil does not end up everywhere else except your work.

Let’s start, shall we?

Adding the design

Once you have all your materials and design in mind, the process is really simple. The first thing you want to do is to lay down all your watercolors, and in this case begin to add the leave like design.

You can begin your design from the back of the card, moving toward the front of the card taking up only a smaller section on the front of the card. Keep in mind that the focal point will be the calligraphy of the guest’s name. 

Once you get going, don’t get too fixated on overwhelming the card with the design. If you take the attention away from the calligraphy, it’s a sign that you may have overdone it. 

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To begin, dip your brush in water and get it fully saturated then add your watercolor. In this example, the branches for the leaves will be done in hematite violet, which is a brownish violet looking color. 

Using the very tip of the brush, paint a delicate stroke to represent the branch starting at the back of the card and over the folded area to the front, and then repeat this same action on the other cards. The cards do not all need to be identical, as you are doing them all by hand, plus it gives them an additional personalized touch.

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Next you want to add the twigs to the branches... these are just small, short and thin delicate strokes protruding off and out from the branch, moving upwards. When you’re painting nature, try to be as loyal as you can to the natural growing patterns and directions. The design does not need to be 100% realistic, but the overall concept should be correct. If you don’t know what to do, just go outside and observe a few plants, how they grow, where the twigs and leaves are pointing at.

To add the leaves get a nice shade of green, like a cascade green which has a subtle blue undertone and you want to aim for a brush stroke that is a bit wider than your branch to represent the leaves. 

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You want to begin by adding the first leave to one of the twigs that’s directly on the creased or folded area of the card to have a general idea of how it will look.

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To achieve the leaf like shape you’ll be adding two brush strokes. One stroke for each side of the leaf, leaving a bit of white space inside. Each stroke should meet at the end creating a pointed like tip. To achieve this apply some pressure in the beginning of the stroke, then lift your paintbrush up as you move towards the ending and tip of the leave, then repeat this on the other side.

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Continue to add the desired amount of leaves on each card, while playing with the opacity levels of each leaf. Some strokes can be very deep and saturated while other strokes more translucent, this adds detail and interest to the card.

Note, working with handmade paper takes a bit of experience since it’s not as porous, and the paint won't be absorbed as fast as other kinds of papers. However, they do produce a fantastic textured end result after drying. 

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Remember the design is just a frame for the calligraphy so keep it simple and allow it to flow organically. Finish it off with a couple of splatters by saturating your brush with water and then holding it over the paper, give it a few taps over certain areas and allow it to dry. 

Adding the gold foil 

Once your paint is dry, it’s time to add your gold flakes. Laying down the gold foil is quite simple but it demands attention as it can get messy pretty quickly.

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Grab your glue pen or regular glue stick, and begin to apply it on the areas you want to add your gold flakes.  

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Get a small pinch of the gilding flakes and place it on the areas where the glue was applied. Using your fingers or a dry brush, brush away any excess flakes. 

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Finish off the rest of your cards with it, get creative… add some to the branches, leaves and white spaces. Remember you just want to accent the cards with minor details to give it a dash of sparkle.


Adding the calligraphy

Now it’s time to add the names of your guests to the cards. Grab your calligraphy pen and ink, then gently pour some of the ink into the cap, make sure to pour it away from your work.

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For your text you can choose to add a whimsical touch to your card, with a kind of wispy or maybe a classical feel, or even gothic... It’s all about your personal taste and the event, so get creative and play around with your own style. 

Once you’ve written all the names, you’re all done and ready to put a smile on the faces of your guests.

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