1 Lightly sand the bedside table and wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove all the dust. Paint the bedside table with a universal undercoat and leave to dry overnight. Paint with the base colour of your choice. Leave to dry completely before you start applying the silver leaf.
2 Place the table on a drop sheet in a draught-free area. Use the soft, flat paintbrush to apply enough size on the tabletop to glue on about four sheets of silver leaf. Evenly apply a very thin coat of size, painting every stroke in the same direction. (Silver leaf is very delicate, so every mark or line will show through.) Leave for 20 minutes, or until touch-dry but still tacky.
3 Use the sponge brush to remove the first sheet of silver leaf from the ‘booklet’ and apply it to the corner of the bedside table; let the rest of the sheet fall over the area. Don’t try to lift it once it has touched the glue because it will tear. Take care not to let it crumple.
4 Now use the wide, soft paintbrush to smooth out the silver leaf. Take care not to let the bristles of the brush touch the areas of the table that are covered in glue. Let each sheet of silver leaf overlap by about 5mm. Smooth each one with the soft brush to ensure a neat finish, and also go over the areas where the sheets of silver leaf overlap. Continue until the top of the bedside table is complete.
5 For the legs and other tricky places, apply the size to one small area at a time. Don’t let the size collect in corners or cavities, always applying it as evenly as possible. Leave for 20 minutes or until it becomes tacky.
6 Cut off smaller sheets of silver leaf to make it easier to work with. Smooth over the silver leaf with the soft paintbrush. Repeat to cover the entire table leg, letting the smaller sheets of silver leaf overlap as before. Smooth over the loose silver leaf with your paintbrush. If there are corners or crevices without silver leaf, rub some small, loose pieces into those areas. Use size to glue larger pieces onto larger areas.
7 Use the sponge brush to smooth the silver leaf in the corners and crevices. Grip the brush firmly close to the tip. Go over the areas again with a soft brush to ensure everything is glued securely, checking for any loose bits. 8 Use the soft, thin brush to fill in the remaining bare areas with metallic powder while the glue is still tacky. To finish, seal the bedside table with a waterbased varnish that is suitable for use on silver leaf. Apply two to three coats of the varnish, leaving each coat to dry completely before applying the next.