Ever wonder how certain decors, crafts or objects turn into a masterpiece bathed in golden glory? That’s the beauty and wonder of applying metallic gold leaf sheets or gilding.
Gilding is considered an old-age craft skill of applying thin sheets of beaten metal (gold, silver, bronze, copper, etc.) to the surface of an object. It can be a picture frame, statue or a piece of furniture, to name a few.
Nowadays, this ancient art has taken the decor industry by a storm. If you want to join the bandwagon, then you’ve come to the right place.
How to apply metallic leaf sheets
Below is an easy to follow guide to help you get started into this ancient art of gilding. The same process also applies to silver leaf and copper leaf.
1. Prepare the object you want to gild and the other materials.
Whether you want to gild picture frames, chair legs, monuments, gates or other gilding projects, preparing the area will ensure that your finished product is exactly as you desired.
Prepare all the gilding supplies ready before you start. Cover the areas you don’t want to gild.
Next, sand or scrub the surface to remove any debris that may cause issues when you finally apply the gold leaf. If you are gilding metal, make sure to remove any dirt or grease.
After that, use the primer for gilding and a paintbrush to apply the gilding sizer. It is best to wait at least 30 minutes for the sizer to dry.
While waiting, you can start cleaning the gilding cushion.
2. Clean the gilding cushion.
Take out the gilding cushion or gilding pad padded with felt and covered with tightly stretched chamois leather. This is where you can apply the gold leaf and then cut it using a gilding knife.
Then open the pack of pumice powder to degrease your gilder’s knife and gilder’s pad. This keeps the gold leaf from sticking to the cushion.
You can also eliminate the excess powder using the flat side of your blade to scrape the remaining pumice powder on the gilding pad. This removes any pumice particles that linger.
3. Apply the gold leaf.
Once the above preparation is complete, you can now start the gold leaf application. Cutting the gold leaf into smaller pieces will help make it easier to apply. Therefore, perform this step while waiting for the sizer to dry.
Next, remove the backing by inserting the knife carefully between it and the leaf. You can also lay the leaf and backing on the surface of the object.
After that, burnish the leaf with a brush or your fingers. Lay the gold leaf on the tacky surface and smoothen the leaf with tissue paper backing and your index finger to burnish the leaf. This helps remove any air pockets and keep the paper still and avoid scratching or tearing the leaf.
Brush the leaf so it adheres to the surface completely. This ensures your object will look like its made of gold instead of covered in gold leaf.
4. Final step: check for some flaws!
Check the finished product for any imperfections, holes, or any areas where the leaf did not adhere.
Once you’re sure that it’s flawless, you can now seal the final product by applying an acrylic topcoat. This protects the leaf from damage caused by water, ultraviolet light, and handling.
Additionally, wait for 5 hours for the seal to dry. If you are gilding perishable items such as food, the topcoat is no longer required.
Finally, glaze the object for that antique look.
After following these basic gilding techniques, you can now appreciate your finished product.
The above is simply an overview of the gilding process for beginners. With the right gilding techniques and supplies, you can transform any object into gold leaf crafts. Channel your inner Midas touch and transform anything you desire to a golden masterpiece.
Add a hint of glamour to ordinary objects and bring new life to common decors and objects by learning the gold leaf art.
For DIY Gold leaf crafts and other metal gilding crafts, you can check our blog for more info.