Gilding (Metal Leaf) by Doug Garrabrants

Gilding (Metal Leaf) by Doug Garrabrants

Gilding is the art of applying a thin layer of metal to a surface. Leaf & other gilding supplies are available from many sources including SeppLeaf in New York. Leaf is made from metals such as real gold (ranging from 6 – 24 karats), Dutch metal (composition or imitation gold), silver, aluminum, palladium & copper. Real gold and aluminum do not tarnish; all the others will tarnish & must be sealed.  If you wish to do some gilding or contract an artisan to do the work for you this article can help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Start with the surface as smooth as possible. Orange peel is what we call the bumpy surface caused by roller application of paint and the leaf will reflect this texture. If your work is high up like this aluminum leaf ceiling there is no concern. Up close, even brush strokes will reflect. Your level of preparation will depend on your budget. If you can budget a perfectly smooth surface, spraying the base color & size (the glue that holds the leaf) and spraying the clear coat, your finished product will be far better on close inspection. Start with a base color of bronze or rust, depending on the color you want to see peeking through between the individual pieces of leaf. Over that you must apply the size in an even coat over the entire surface. We like water base Rolco Aquasize. After 15-20 minutes the size is ready to accept the leaf and will continue to be tacky for 36-48 hours. We have found that it is best to have all your work...