5 Simple Steps To Gold Leafing

Gold leafing
Gold Leaf Gilding is an art form that dates back many hundreds of years. The term gold leafing used to describe the process where real gold in the form of 23K or 24K gold leaf was used.

These days very little actual gold leaf is used due to use of the relatively cheap alternative available, called schlagmetal or composition leaf to simulate the appearance of genuine gold leaf.

This metal leaf is composed of 85% copper and 15% zinc and comes in sheets interleaved with tissue paper measuring 140mm x 140mm in packets of 25 sheets.

Although inexpensive and relatively easy to handle, metal leaf has certain limitations. It is not quite as reflective as gold and has a tendency to tarnish if not sealed before use. However the differences are so slight as to make it virtually indistinguishable from gold when applied correctly.

The surface to be used must be prepared properly by sanding to yield a smooth surface All surfaces must be dry, free from dirt, wax and grease.

Porous surfaces
Unfinished surfaces such as wood must be sealed . After the sealer has dried sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper until smooth. The smother the surface the better will be the finished appearance.
Glass, metal and painted surfaces do not require this preliminary sealing coat.

The older methods involved the use of traditional gesso and clay but the newer acrylics have changed the face of gold leafing. Water based products have largely replaced the use of oil sizes and sealers.

5 Simple Steps to Gold Leafing
Step 1. Apply a base coat of Classic Venetian Red Gold Leaf Basecoat.

Step 2. When dry apply a thin coat of Classic Gold Leaf Adhesive Size and allow to dry.

Step 3. Apply the composition Classic Gold Leaf.

Step 4. Apply a coat of Classic Gold Leaf Antiquing Glaze and gently wipe off from surfaces you wish to highlight.

Step 5. Apply a coat of Classic Gold Leaf Satin Sealer.

Additional Supplies Required

  • Cotton Batting * Sand Paper * Water Colour Brush #5
  • Soft Paint Brush 50 mm * Newspaper * Sterile Cotton

The Cotton Batting is the type used for making quilts and is used to pat down the gold leaf once it is applied.

The Sterile cotton or cheesecloth is used to buff the gold after all the leaf is applied onto the surface. This is also referred to as burnishing.

The newspaper is used to cover the work surface.

Applying the metal leaf
First thoroughly wash and dry your hands before handling the metal leaf. Then place the metal leaf one sheet at a time, on the area that has been coated with the adhesive size. Take a dry, clean, soft bristle brush about 50mm wide and gently dab the metal leaf onto the adhesive as it is applied. Hold the brush vertically.

Keep applying the metal leaf until the entire surface is covered. It does not matter if the sheets overlap.Use small pieces of leaf to cover any areas you many have missed.

Tamping the Leaf
Once the entire project has been gilded tamp the leaf down with the cotton. Tamp and then wipe off the excess one section at a time. Tamp and wipe. Tamp firmly on areas where the leaf overlaps to ensure the seam does not show.

Where there are breaks in the leaf patch with small pieces of leaf and tamp with the cotton.
On heavily ornamented areas where the leaf is difficult or impossible to apply, lightly dust with bronzing gold powder and this will give you a perfect finish.

The bole or red undercoat can be exposed for producing an antique finish if desired. Using OOOO steel wool gently rub the high areas of the frame to produce highlights. Be careful not to rub too hard or you will start to remove the gold leaf.

Leave a Comment