How to apply Genuine Gold Leaf

Oil based method - Using oil based adhesive size

GildedPlanet.com's Basic Gilding 101 educational series delivers step-by-step gilding tutorials and gilding information for the beginner, intermediate and advanced gilder.

About Oil based adhesive size
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Quick-Dry Oil Size will reach tack in approx. 2 hours and will remain open for gilding for 2 to 3 hours. In very dry and warm environments, it may reach tack in as little as 1 hour and the open time for gilding may be greatly reduced. It produces excellent results with genuine and metal leaf and is recommended for small projects or when time is limited. Allow to cure for 24 hours before sealing. Download complete specification sheet for this product.

Slow-Set Oil Size is recommended for projects that may require a longer open time for gilding than Quick-Dry will allow. It will reach proper gilding tack in 10-12 hours and will remain open for gilding with genuine or metal leaf for an equal amount of time. The open time for gilding with metal leaf is usually less, as it is with other oil sizes. Allow to cure minimum of one week before sealing.


Oil Gilding Video Tutorial

Quick Dry oil size gilding. This detailed demonstration shows you how to apply genuine gold, silver, imitation gold, aluminum and copper leaf to objects and furniture using the classic 3 hour oil size method. Brought to you by the folks at gildedplanet.com, you'll learn about types of adhesive, testing for 'tack' and drying rates, easy leaf application tips and cleaning and burnishing the leaf.


Step-by-step tutorial starts here...

Step 1: Prepare work area. Cover working surfaces and floor areas with drop cloths or newspaper. Use low-tack painters tape to mask any areas not to be gilded. Lightly sand the surface if necessary with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any blemishes.

Step 2: Prime surface. Remove sanding dust with a tack cloth and apply a quality primer like our Burnish Sealer. This primer-sealer works as both a primer over the substrate and a finish paint coat. It has been specially formulated for gilding processes and is available in 3 color tones - Red, Grey and Ochre. Burnish Sealer produces a high quality, smooth surface for gilding. Ochre, red or grey can produce fault hiding bases or color enhancing undertones.

For more information on the use and application of primers refer to the artSparx.com basic preparation resource.

using gold leaf

gold leaf

Step 3: Apply base color, also referred to as 'bole'. Our one-step 'Burnish Sealer', as mentioned above, is an oil based product that acts as both a primer and undercolor. When using the Burnish Sealer it is generally not necessary to apply an additional paint color over the primer sealer. This product is available in 3 colors. One can experiment with different colors and your choice will affect the overall appearance of the finished product. Visit the Gilded Planet Bole color center for more color ideas.

Step 4: Apply adhesive 'size'. Size refers to the adhesive used to adhere the leaf to a surface. For most common gilding practices there is a choice of sizing available, water-based or oil-based. Apply carefully and evenly, working the size to an even film as much as possible. Visit the Size and adhesive center for detailed use and product information, including drying and tack times.


About Bole

This base color is also referred to as the 'Bole' color. Traditionally, bole was made from clay. Today paint is typically substituted. One can experiment with different colors and your choice will affect the overall appearance of the finished product. For example, the traditional terra-cotta color adds warmth to both gold and silver leaf. A black 'bole' color creates a hard, cold look - often appropriate for Neoclassical, Art Deco pieces, and the like. A yellow 'bole' color evens out the overall appearance, and diminishes any 'holidays' or cracks on the gilded surface. You can learn more about true clay bole here.


Manetti 23kt Gold Leaf Books - 25 leaves

In Stock

Manetti Brand - Italian Leaf Books. - 25 leaves. Each leaf is 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" square. Approx. coverage is 1.7 sqft. 16 gram weight per 1000 leaves.


MA23.00SF/B $ 69.00
Manetti Brand - Gold Leaf Book
Loose Leaf
MA23.00PA/B $ 72.00
Manetti Brand - Gold Leaf Book
Patent Leaf
MA23.00DB/B $ 74.00
Manetti Brand - Double Gold Leaf Book - 18 grams
Loose Leaf
MA23.00GL/B $ 68.00
Manetti Brand - Glass Gold Leaf Book - for gilding on glass
Loose Leaf
More 23kt Gold Leaf - Packs, Books and Rolls

Step 5: Testing your 'tack'. - This is perhaps the most important phase in achieving a properly gilt surface, and determining the proper 'tack' time of adhesive sizing will result in the professional finish you are after. As your 'size' dries it naturally goes from a wet to a dry state. The proper time to apply your leaf is when the 'size' is not wet but 'tacky', just before it dries completely. Using the back of your knuckle, carefully rub over the drying size and listen for a 'squeak'. If it is too wet, it will tug on your skin,. If too dry is will fell like a sealed varnish surface. View the video tutorial above for more information.

Quick Dry Size will reach tack in approx. 2 hours and will remain open for gilding for 2 to 3 hours. In very dry and warm environments, it may reach tack in as little as 1 hour and the open time for gilding may be greatly reduced.

Slow Set Size is recommended for projects that may require a longer open time for gilding than Quick-Dry will allow. It will reach proper gilding tack in 10-12 hours and will remain open for gilding with genuine or metal leaf for an equal amount of time. The open time for gilding with metal leaf is usually less, as it is with other oil sizes. Allow to cure minimum of two weeks before sealing.

Step 6: Applying Gold Leaf: gold leaf

Surface leaf: Placing a book of leaf in your hand, carefully fold back the protective paper to expose the gold leaf. Lay the leaf onto the sized area and 'roll' out the leaf. Hold firmly and carefully. Attach leaf to surface. The use of a 'Gilder's Tip' brush will greatly facilitate picking up a single sheet of loose leaf gold and allowing you to move the leaf to the sized surface.

Patent Leaf: Carefully remove a single sheet of gold leaf transfer paper and gently apply to your surface. Rub over the back of the paper with a gilder's brush, or gently with your fingers. Carefully remove the paper to leave the gold leaf adhered to the surface. Continue in this manner.

Step 7: 'Burnishing' the leaf - When oil gilding, burnishing refers to the cleaning of the excess gold bits (Skewings) with a soft brush. Do not use an agate stone burnisher. Actual burnishing tools can only be used with Traditional Water GIlding Techniques. Learn more about Traditional Water Gilding here. After the leaf is laid on, rub gentle and thoroughly with a soft squirrel or goat mop gilder's brush to insure complete adhesion. More about burnishing.


Step 8: Touching up 'holidays' in the leaf surface. Touch up any 'holidays', areas that are missing leaf due to lack of sufficient sizing or from leafed areas that may have torn away during burnishing. For details on this procedure visit the artSparx advanced gilding tutorials at the artSparx Gilded Corner.

Step 9: Seal and protect the gilded surface. Genuine Gold Leaf with a karat rating of 23kt or higher (23kt, 23.5kt, 23.75kt, 24kt) does not require sealing. However, it may be desirable to apply a protective coat of sealer to insure durability of the leaf, particularly in high traffic areas or for heavy use objects and furniture. Specially formulate for use over genuine or metal leaf surfaces, the 'Acrylic Topcoat' is a non-reactive, premium water clear sealer for genuine and metal leaf. Made from acrylic copolymers, Acrylic Topcoat provides protection from abrasion, water and ultra violet light. This solvent based sealer resists chemicals and may be applied by brush or spray. Available in Gloss and Satin finishes. More information.

Step 10: Apply antique glaze - OPTIONAL. Antiquing and aging your leafed surface adds character and old world charm. For antiquing recipes for gilded surfaces visit the Antiquing Center.


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