by: Garnette

Imitation Gold Leaf is fun and works very well on miniatures.  And you're going to love it because it has a luster that's impossible to achieve with gold paint.
A miniature picture frame is a good project for a beginner, so lets do that.

What you need:

Miniature wooden picture frame
Imitation gold leaf
Ordinary white glue
Large soft brush
Burnt umber antiquing stain

Give the frame a coat of gesso so it will have a nice smooth finish.
Then add a coat of dark red acrylic paint. (Traditionally, a rich, deep red is used)
Just a touch of red will show through the gold leaf, giving it a lusterous effect.

Use scissors to cut the gold leaf into pieces, 1" square and lay on a smooth clean surface. (do not let them touch each other)
When the paint is dry;  brush on a thin layer of white glue and let it dry for a few minutes.
Begin placing the gold leaf squares onto the frame, one at a time.
Use a large (dry) soft brush and gently stroke the gold leaf onto the frame.
Add the next square, overlapping the edges, just slightly.
Repeat the 'brush' step.  Do this until the frame is covered.
Set the frame aside to dry for at least an hour.

After it's dry,  gently, brush away the excess leaf. 
Hopefully you'll find that the leaf has cracked here and there, exposing some of the red paint. This will give it an authentic finish.
You can tone down the brightness of the gold by dabbing a little burnt umber stain onto the frame, then gently wiping most of it off.