gilders paste tutorial

Tutorial of the Week: Altering Metal Filigrees Using Gilders Paste

Good morning, everyone!  It is time for another tutorial, and today we’re going to learn the different ways to use Gilders Paste to alter our metal filigrees 🙂

So…what is Gilders Paste anyway?  Well, it is a very thick wax based product that comes in small tins that look very much like shoe polish.  It becomes permanent after it is fully cured and can be used on a myriad of surfaces, including metal, wood, ceramics, resin, polymer clay and more!


  • metal filigrees (as always)
  • Gilders Paste (obviously!)
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Metal palette knives
  • Disposable Paint Brushes
  • Glass paint palette or dish
  • Rag
  • Superfine steel wool
  • Clear sealer

Before using the Gilders Paste, it is very important to ensure that the surface of your filigree has “tooth” for the paste to grab onto…just like when gluing your filigrees.  You can do this by lightly rubbing the filigree with steel wool in a circular motion.  Also, make sure you clean all the resulting dust from your filigree.

Another important note is that this product should always be used in a well-ventilated area!  It does have a fairly strong odor.

Method #1 – Apply using your finger or a rag

As usual, there are several different ways that this medium can be applied to your filigrees to achieve different looks.  Let’s look first at the different effects that can be achieved just by simply using your finger to apply the Gilders Paste.

Highlighting Raised Areas

If you’re looking for something a little more subtle, you can simply pick up a small amount of Gilders Paste on your finger and lightly rub it onto your filigree.

gilders paste tutorial

The gilders paste will highlight all the raised areas and bring out the design on the filigree.  Here’s a look at what this effect looks like:

gilders paste tutorial

Highlighting the Crevices

If you’re looking to do something a little bit different, you can always apply the paste more liberally.  I typically only use my finger, but you could choose to use a rag to apply the paste.  Ensure that you push the Gilders Paste down into all the crevices and achieve good coverage.

gilders paste tutorial

You now have a decision to make…you can either leave the piece completely covered as is, or you can use a clean section of your rag to remove as little or as much of the paste as you like.  The paste will tend to remain in the crevices and be removed from the raised areas.  If you remember, we achieved this look using both acrylic paint and the Vintaj Patinas.  Here’s a look at this same effect using the Gilders Paste:

gilders paste tutorial

One great characteristic of Gilders Paste is that it has a long working time.  You can safely use and move the paste around on your filigree for approximately 30 minutes.  This makes the pastes very easy to blend…kinda like distress inks on paper!  On this heart filigree, I blended the Pinotage with Cream:

gilders paste tutorial

Even better yet…the long working time makes fixing mistakes super easy!  You can simply use a clean rag to wipe as much of the paste off your filigree as possible.  For any paste that is stubborn to remove (like in the crevices), you can add a bit of mineral spirits to your rag and keep wiping to remove every little bit of paste 😀

After approximately 60 minutes, the Gilders Paste should be dry to the touch.  If you choose, you can buff your filigree at this time.  The metallic Gilders Pastes will change from a glossy to a gilded finish, and the non-metallic pastes will change from a matte finish to a soft shine.

Method #2 – Apply using a paint brush

I always like getting my hands dirty, so applying Gilders Paste with my fingers is my preferred method.  That being said, there are certain things that can’t be done using your fingers alone.

Dry Brush

If you are working with a more detailed piece, or you just simply want to apply the paste in a very controlled way, using a paint brush is a great option.  All you need to do is pick up a small amount of paste with your paint brush and apply it directly onto the desired areas of your filigree.

gilders paste tutorial

This sounds very simple, but I will warn you that the different colors of the Gilders Paste do sometimes have different consistencies.  So, if you’re finding that one of your pastes is too dry to pick up much of anything with a brush, you can always use a bit of mineral spirits to soften it (see “Refreshing Old Dried Out Paste” section below).

Highlighting the Crevices

Another great way of applying Gilders Paste to your metal filigrees is by painting it on like you would acrylic paint.  You will need a glass paint palette or dish for this method.  Add a small amount of mineral spirits and a small amount of each color of paste to your palette.  I use the handle end of my paint brush to scoop a tiny bit of paste onto my palette:

gilders paste tutorial

Now just pick up a drop of the mineral spirits on the end of your paint brush and mix it with one of the colors of Gilders Paste until you achieve the consistency of paint…then simply paint your filigree.  By applying the paste in this way, you can achieve a very even coat on your filigree without getting too much build up in the crevices.

gilders paste tutorial

You can leave your filigree as is, or use a rag to remove some of the paste from the high spots like we did above when we applied it with our finger.  You can see that this gives a similar, but “softer” look:

gilders paste tutorial

Creating a Wash

Just like with the Vintaj Patinas we worked with last week, you can also create a wash using the Gilders Pastes to add a faint hint of color to your filigree, or add it over other finishes to create more of a shabby look.  To create a wash, you just have to use more mineral spirits to thin out the paste.  Here’s a look at a bronze filigree butterfly with a white wash over it:

gilders paste tutorial

Remember how well I said these pastes blend really well while still wet?  Well…you can also mix the colors to create new colors…just like with paint 🙂  This must be done using a paint brush and mineral spirits…the pastes are too thick otherwise.

Once I’m done working with my paint brushes, I just throw them away.  This is why I only invest in cheap “disposable” brushes for this purpose.


Theoretically, you should be able to leave your filigree unfinished after the Gilders Paste has cured (provided you started with some good “tooth” for the paste to stick to).  This being said, I always recommend adding a sealer over top, particularly with high wear pieces.

You do need to allow the Gilders Paste to cure for a minimum of 12 hours, then I just add 3 very thin coats of a spray sealer (or finish).  You can get it from pretty much any department store like Walmart or any hardware store.  It also comes in a variety of finishes – matte, satin, glossy, etc.

Clean Up

I already mentioned that I just through away my used paint brushes.  You do not want to do this with your palette knives, however.  You can easily clean these tools using a bit of mineral spirits on a rag.  I just use warm soapy water for my hands, and use a Ranger Craft Scrubbie for any stubborn spots on my hands.

Refreshing Old Dried Out Paste

If you’ve tried using Gilders Paste already, you’ll know that a little goes a very long way.  That being said, each small tin of Gilders Paste can last for years…and you know what that means, right?  Yup…the product gets old and dries out.  The paste will sometimes crack, or just shrink in its tin.  Don’t despair, though!  Another great quality of Gilders Paste is that it can easily be rejuvenated to like new no matter how old it is 🙂

If you are short on time, you’ll want to rejuvenate just a small amount of the dried out paste.  First break off a small piece of the paste and put it in the lid of your tin.  Then chop it up into small bits using a palette knife:

gilders paste tutorial

Now, using your palette knife, add just one drop of mineral spirits and start working the small pieces into the mineral spirits…just keep chopping, mashing and stirring with your palette knife.  If the paste is still dry and crumbly, continue this process, adding one drop at a time.  It does take a bit of patience, but only takes a couple of minutes to return a small chunk of paste back to its former glorious rejuvenated self 🙂

If you have a bit more time, you can rejuvenate an entire tin of Gilders Paste.  First add 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of mineral spirits to the tin of dried out paste.  The amount of mineral spirits you add will depend on the amount of paste in your tin and how dried out it is.  Put the lid back on the tin and let it sit overnight.

When you open the tin the next day, it will look pretty much the same as the night before.  Just flip the entire “puck” over…you will notice that the bottom has softened quite a bit.  Just use your palette knife to chop, mash and stir the paste like we did before until it reaches its original consistency…you can always add a drop or two of mineral spirits to the tin until you reach the right consistency:

gilders paste tutorial

Artbeads has a great step-by-step guide with great pictures that you may want to check out, too 🙂

I’m pretty limited on the number of colors of Gilders Paste that I own (only 4 out of 28), so I wanted to REALLY show you what you can do with stuff.  Here’s a picture of an amazing necklace created by Nancy over at Jewels of Endearment that really shows off what effects you can achieve with this stuff:

gilders paste tutorial

You can find Nancy’s full blog post on this piece HERE.

Well, that’s pretty much it on Gilders Paste. I hope you found this tutorial informative and inspirational 🙂  If you’d prefer to watch the video I created showing you  all the ins and outs of Gilders Paste, you can do that right here:


I do have one last, but small request…please leave me a comment and let me know if you’d like to see products, such as Gilders Paste, that aren’t readily available at the big box stores available for purchase in the ButterBeeScraps shop.  Cheers!

Reader Interactions


  1. Joey says

    I love your tutorials and always learn so much. Thanks for your hard work in bring these to us…it is greatly loved and appreciated!!! Have a sweet day! 🙂

  2. Martie Rollin says

    This tutorial is terrific! Loved seeing all the photos and reading all the tips about using this product. Thanks!