I thought I would give a lesson in gold leafing. This is something that can have spectacular results, and, surprisingly, is not that difficult to do. It can be a little messy but in a good way. I’ll explain that later.
The materials that you will need are an older paint brush (you will end up throwing this one away) or purchase a small spongebrush. You will also need sizing adhesive and the gold leaf itself. This is a synthetic gold leaf, which is more common and alot less costly. I would suggest you find a piece to work on on the smaller rather than larger side. When you are comfortable with that you can move onward to something larger. Maybe you would like to practice on a foamcore board as I am showing here. Or have you been wanting to jazz up a frame? That is a good project with easy results.
You also will need paint in a color that you would like to have show through in areas. Black and red are the most common, but any color will work. Don’t go to any great expense with this for starters. A small bottle of acrylic craft paint will do just fine. I am using black.
Basecoat the piece or sample with 2 coats of the craft paint. When thoroughly dry, using your old brush, apply the sizing adhesive. it will be white in color but dries clear. I will tell you that when it dries it is quite sticky, so beware.
After your adhesive has become clear, you are ready to start the fun. The gold leafing comes in 4″x4″ sheets. Remove one and apply it to the adhesive. Here I have kept them in a straight order but you may choose to angle them or tear them into pieces. Now, this is where the little messy part starts. the sheets of gold leaaf are quite thin and fragile. When clients have asked about it I tell them to think of butterfly wings and you almost have the delicacy of gold leaf. It will tend to float around in pieces if allowed to. The sheets will invariably tear somewhat, don’t worry about that. If you notice in the one photo you can see straight lines of black showing through. In the next photo not so much. That is because I went back in with the broken pieces and filled in some of the area. I like to leave small background areas to show through. it breaks up the straight lines and also can give it more character, I think. A good thing to use to help put it down is a small brush. Here I have used a mop brush, but an inexpensive chipwood brush will work just fine. After you have applied as much gold leafing as you want you will need to burnish it. All that is is taking a rag (old tshirt is good, or soft paper towel, or even kleenex), bunch it up a little , and rub the surface, ideally in circular motions. You will be able to see the difference even though it is subtle.
Here are photos to get an idea of what the process would look like, and then I added an elaborate vestibule ceiling that I completed.
Behold! Your own gold leafing!
In a few weeks I will be using gold leaf in another project that is for Easter. I think that you will like it!