Craftsmen make gold leaf by hammering gold into tissue-thin sheets. Gold leaf is most often used in a process called gilding in which the sheets are applied to decorative items such as statues, picture frames or mirrors. Gold leaf is also commonly used in interior decoration and architecture and is applied to ceilings, domes or columns. Gold leaf can be purchased at art supply stores.
Things You'll Need
- Drop cloth
- Gold leaf primer
- Gilding adhesive
- Gold leaf
- Gilding topcoat
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Cover the work area with drop cloths.
Tape off with painter’s tape any areas of the item that are not to be gilded.
Prime the surface of the item with a colored gold leaf primer and a paintbrush. This will seal the item and will provide an under color that will give the finished gold leafing more depth. Traditionally, sealers are red, grey or ochre.
Use another clean paintbrush to apply the sizing. Sizing is a water or oil-based adhesive that is specifically designed for the gilding process. As the adhesive dries it will develop a stickiness, referred to as tack. You should apply the gold leaf when the sizing is dry but still sticky. If you wait too long, the sizing will dry completely and will no longer be sticky.
Apply the gold leaf by removing one sheet and placing it on the surface of the item. Rub the back of the gold leaf with a gilding brush until it is attached to the surface. Continue until the entire surface is gilded. If the sizing has lost its tack, reapply the adhesive.
If your gold leaf is higher than 22 karats, it will not need to be sealed. If it is lower, apply a gold leaf sealer with a clean paintbrush. Allow it to dry completely.