Using gold leaf for your art or craftwork

by Jun 1, 2021Art Supplies, Crafts & Crafting

Adding a touch of luxury to your work

Using gold leaf, whether it’s the real thing at 23ct or imitation gold leaf, will add luxury to your art or craft work. Jane takes us through the different options and gives an overview of how to use it.

Why gold leaf?

Gold has traditionally been the most popular and most common metal leaf used for gilding or decoration of art works. Silver leaf is also readily available and widely used by artists.

The use of gold leaf dates back millenia, to when it was the first metal soft enough to be beaten to thin sheets. It can be found as a decoration of art works, including statues and eastern Christian icons, or on picture frames used to hold/display paintings. It has been used in mixed media, on small objects, including jewellery, and in paper art.

Gold remains popular today because of the look of luxury which it can give to a piece. Everyone knows the look of gold and, whether it is real 23ct gold or the imitation leaf available today, it adds that touch of luxury to any work you might use it on.

Gold leaf

What is imitation gold leaf?

Imitation gold leaf is brass alloy where the mixture of zinc and copper has been specifically controlled to create tones that closely mimic genuine gold leaf. It is also known as Dutch metal, composition metal or Schlag metal.

Loose leaf vs transfer leaf

You can buy gold leaf in loose leaf packs and in transfer leaf. What’s the difference?

Well both loose leaf and transfer leaf come in sheets, the difference is that a loose leaf sheet of gold sits loosely between the sheets of the book, whereas transfer leaf will stay on the paper until you go to apply it to another surface. Depending on how you want to use the leaf can make a difference to which is preferable. But for most uses it is mainly a matter of personal preference with neither being ‘better’ or ‘worse’.

imitation gold leaf
art and craft metal

What glue can I use for gold or imitation leaf?

There are a few products that can be used to apply gold leaf to a surface and these include:

  • Gedeo Gilding Paste
  • Eberhard by Staedtler or
  • alternatively an acrylic medium or a good PVA glue thinned to a milky consistency
  • traditional oil based size such as Japan Gold Size works best on hard smooth surfaces but will take longer to dry sufficiently to accept the leaf.

How to apply gold leaf

Putting the leaf onto your work is fairly straight forward, although the first few times it can be a little nerve wracking. First, make sure the surface you are applying the gold leaf to is clean then apply your chosen glue.

Leave the glue to go tacky, and once it is tacky, using a very soft brush, lay the gold leaf over the area that has been glued and pat down using the brush. Don’t use your fingers as the static from your body will attract the leaf and make it impossible to work with. The brush helps to bed the gold leaf down to the surface.

Does gold leaf need to be sealed?

If you are using imitation gold leaf then it does need to be sealed, otherwise it will tarnish. Simply add a clear coat of sealer. The protective coat of sealer not only prevents oxidation but gives durability to the leaf.

If gilded correctly 23ct or above gold leaf can last for between 20 – 30 years external unsealed. It is recommended that gold leaf that is 23ct or above is not sealed as most sealers tend to break down over a period of time and typically only last for around 3-5 years.

Size for leaf metal
Winsor Newton size

A bit of history

Pure gold is the oldest form of beaten metal with the technique dating back to the ancient Egyptians. The craft of the gold beater involves converting precious metals, such as gold or silver, into extremely thin leaves used to adorn a variety of surfaces. The gilding technique is still used today on many different surfaces using the loose leaf or the transfer gold leaf.

Size for leaf metal

The costs

Imitation gold leaf

Art & craft metal – 16 x 16cm 25 sheets @ £12.50

Leaf metal – 14 x 14cm 7 sheets @ £8.95

Genuine gold leaf

22 ct – 25 leaves 80 x 80mm @ £49.00

23 3/4 ct – 25 leaves 80 x 80mm @ £54.00

 

Jane is a member of the Gadsby’s team. She has a wide knowledge of the arts & crafts products and materials sold by Gadsby’s both from the perspective of an advisor in the shop and, for many of the products, from personal use too.

Please note that this is not a service that Gadsbys offer to clients – just an example of the private work done by one of the highly skilled and knowledgable Gadsby’s team shown for your interest.

 

Related Articles

Cleaning brushes

Cleaning brushes

In this blog Jane takes a look at cleaning your brushes. She uses acrylics and has found that soapy warm water does the trick and then a good rinse to clean the soap away. But here she just checked whether she was doing the right thing?Cleaning...

read more
Neocolor wax crayons

Neocolor wax crayons

Rather good wax pastels Neocolor wax crayons - these rather good wax pastels are available in permanent or water soluble.Water soluble colours Neocolour ll artists watercolour pastels are among the widest range of wax based water soluble pastels on...

read more
Page layouts

Page layouts

Jane shares a page layout project from her college days where she practiced the art of laying out a page for various purposes. Largley a computerised activity today, but still a useful set of skills to master.Layout paper If you are studying...

read more
Using tracing paper

Using tracing paper

Jane said "I have used tracing paper for a few projects and I thought it would be a good medium to take a closer look at."What is tracing paper? Tracing paper is made to have low opacity, allowing light to pass through. It was originally developed...

read more
Self portraits – why do artists do them?

Self portraits – why do artists do them?

I screamed inwardly... A question that has been on my mind for many years has been - Why do artists do self portraits? I thought this may be an interesting subject to look at since I had to do a self portrait when I was at college studying graphic...

read more
Texture paste – adding body to your artwork

Texture paste – adding body to your artwork

Adding a heavy body feel to your work This week Jane uses Texture paste on a few pieces of her art.Texture paste is a great medium when you want to add a heavy body feel to your art work. I have used texture paste myself on a project for a friend...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This