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GOLD LEAF GILDING TIPS

BASIC STEPS TO GOLD LEAF GILDING
  1. PREPARE THE SURFACE (repair, sand & clean)
  2. APPLY BOLE (base coat)
  3. APPLY THE SIZE (foam brush)
  4. LAY THE LEAF (transfer, apply & smooth)
  5. BRUSH THE EXCESS LEAF FROM THE SURFACE (bristle brush)
  6. DISTRESS, DECORATE, OR OVERPAINT THE LEAF (OPTIONAL)
  7. SEAL THE SURFACE

1.Fill any holes, sand the surface thoroughly and remove any dust. Make sure the surface is perfectly clean and dry.
2. Brush on two coats of colored matte latex paint or gesso (deep red, yellow, black, blue). BOLE is available in dry pigment form, usually red or yellow. When mixed with a liquid medium such as gesso or gloss medium (either oil or acrylic base), it is then ready for application. Allow to dry before moving to step 3.
3.Gently stir or shake the size before application. Apply the size as evenly as possible (a foam brush or artist's brush works well). Wait for the size to become tacky before applying the leaf. You know the size reaches tack when it is no longer wet, and your finger hesitates as you gently rub it over the surface. Work in small areas to gauge how much you can leaf before it "loses tack".
4. To transfer the leaf from its book use a gilder's tip. Before picking up the leaf, rub the gilder's tip back and forth over the hair on your arm as the natural oil from your hair combined with any static electricity it generates helps the tip grab the leaf. Begin applying the leaf to the tacky surface and pat down as you go with the tip. You can use the tip or a "bob" to smooth out the leaf (to make a bob, cut a 10cm square piece of cotton or silk. Place 1-3 cotton balls into the middle then draw the ends tight together securing with a rubber band like a little sack.)

* If you desire better coverage, resize the surface, wait for it to reach tack, then apply another layer of leaf. You may notice small cracks occur during the leafing process, exposing the base color. You may leave these "faults" if this is the desired look you want, or fill them with skewings (small bits of scrap leaf left over from applying or brushing the excess leaf in the next step). Pick up the skewings with a gilder's tip and lay them on the small faults you wish to cover.


5. Once you have laid the leaf on the entire object, allow the leaf (sizing) to dry. Waiting overnight is highly recommended for a safe, smooth finish. With a bristle brush (hog hair) gently remove the excess leaf. Always brush in direction of the overlap to prevent lifting or tearing. When the excess has been removed, check the surface for any faults or inconsistencies (separations) in the leaf and repair them by applying the skewings. * This will repeat step 3-5.
6. There are many ways to alter or enhance the gilded surface. There are many books which that can give details regarding the multitude of special effects and techniques that can be achieved. Some may require you to varnish the final project, depending on the materials you use to faux finish.
7. Leaf that tarnishes (composition leaf, silver leaf, variegated leaf or copper leaf) should be sealed. You do not need to seal genuine gold leaf as it will not tarnish, unless you want extra protection for the gold surface. Varnish is the best top-coat. Shellac may be used but may alter the color of the leaf and spray varnishes are only good on projects that are rarely handled and only need a light top coat.