|COMMON GILDING PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
Gold will not stick
- If the gold lays down nice, but falls off when you
touch it, (sometimes in large flakes) the cause could
be not enough moisture. Try applying gold again; paying
careful attention to how much moisture is in that area.
You may even have to apply water with a paintbrush. (A
common problem in low humidity - winter)
- If the gold will not stick to the gesso, but the glassine
does. Your gesso is too wet (either with too much water
or honey) Wait a while for the gesso to dry out a bit
and try again. If the problem was too much water, try
not to get the gesso as wet next time. If the problem
is too much honey (the gesso will be pliable when completely
dry instead of hard and chalk like) sometimes a little
bit of slaked plaster mixed into the gesso will remedy
- If the gold will not stick no matter what you try. Larger
areas can sometimes be painted over with size and patched
with another layer of gold leaf. A small area can be painted
over with shell gold. (You may not have stirred your gesso
well enough and have a spot that is unable to hold gold
or you may have gotten oil from your hands on the gesso.
in the gold
- Bubbles in the gesso can cause pits and divots. Do not use gesso
if it has a lot of bubbles. This sounds strange, but mix a little
earwax into the gesso if you have a bubble problem. The earwax
acts sort of like an antacid. Your only other options are wait
for the bubbles to settle (if they ever do), or pop them.
- Scratches, gouges and missed bubbles. If they cannot be sanded
or burnished out, they should be filled in with more gesso, allowed
to dry and carefully sanded again before laying gold. If they
are missed, you can try to fill the area with more layers of gold.
- Mottled appearance can happen if there is too much honey in
the gesso or the gesso was too wet, but some gold stuck anyway.
Try laying another layer of leaf over the mottled spot.
- Any number of smudges and spots can occur from burnishing your
gold while the gesso underneath is too wet. If you are burnishing
and the gold is just rubbing off...stop!!! Put the piece away
overnight and try again tomorrow. If the gold continues to rub
off, there is another problem.
- Sometimes there are imperfections in the gold itself. Several
layers may be needed.
- The gesso may be too soft and the gold cannot stretch enough.
Re-apply the gold and don't burnish with as much pressure.
- The gesso may be too brittle. In this case the gesso is what
is splitting apart, not the gold. You will usually hear crunching
noises and feel the gesso breaking underneath the burnisher. Use
a lighter pressure on the burnisher. Try to re-apply the gold
over any existing cracks or patch using shell gold