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Old 12-29-2001, 12:22 PM   #1
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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Gold Leaf




What are the proper techniques to use when incorporating gold leaf into an oil painting? I am interested in details with respect to the surface underneath the leaf, and how and whether it is sealed and/or varnished at the end. I seem to recall seeing images of Ron Sherr (oil) and Doug Dawson (pastel) using leaf...but for the life of me, can't put my fingers on them.

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Old 12-29-2001, 02:11 PM   #2
Jesse C. Draper Jesse C. Draper is offline
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Gold Leaf

I'm new at this, but I've just completed some gold leafing in two of my paintings. I've asked many people for advice on how to do it right. I was told that you must put a solid color down on a smooth surface before you put on the gold leaf. A viridian color works well. I don't know if that is true or not. You must put some leafing glue down and wait for about two hours to apply the gold leaf. You can buy the glue at any artstore. You apply the glue in the exact shape that you want the gold leaf to appear. The glue will remain tacky for 24 hrs. When actually applying the leaf, use a piece of wax paper to pick it up from the gold leaf packet. To do this, gently iron over the wax paper covering the gold leaf with your hand. The gold leaf should stick to the other side of the wax paper. Put the gold leaf onto the tacky surface and rub it again until it no longer sticks to the wax paper. Now comes the hard part. I like to use an exacto knife to tear the shapes away but I've heard that a stiff brush works well too. You can tell which pieces you need to tear away because they appear looser than the applied leaf. I've heard that you don't need to apply any finish to the leaf if it is to remain indoors. But I may be wrong. Remember, never handle gold leaf with your hands, the oil from fingerprints will damage the leaf. I hope that helps. I am in no way an expert on gold leafing. I'm sorry if I've given any incorrect information. Chris you probably know more about this more than I do. Thank you.
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Old 01-04-2002, 12:18 AM   #3
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Oh Boy! In my former life (some time prior to portraiture) I was a signpainter and did lots and lots of gold leaf lettering. It really isn't very hard. 24K Gold leaf will stick to nearly anything....most especially oil paint that is tacky....

The usual way that gold is made deep and rich looking is to paint the area underneath it a "fire engine red." To make it shiny, you adhere the leaf to a smooth surface.

Gold leaf comes in many forms - leafs separated by tissue paper and these are picked up with a gilder's brush. Sometimes it comes adhered to a "wax" paper so it can be cut and handled more easily. Any gold leaf in sheets may have "hairline cracks" after application if the surface is not as smooth as glass.

To avoid this I think the easiest way to apply gold leaf for a beginner would be to use a clean dry brush and 24K gold leaf in powdered form.

Here's the hard part...you must protect any part of the surface that you do not want gold leaf to adhere to. It can/will stick to most everything it touches and is a bear to remove! I don't know what areas you are trying to cover, but if it is a small definite area in a painting, try cutting a mask in order to control the leaf from "polutting" the surrounding areas.

Varnish will nicely seal gold leaf. It is an inert metal and you can even paint over it without any problems.

If you're thinking about adding gold leaf to a picture frame, ignore the above...there is another way to do that and many good books describe how that is done.
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Old 01-04-2002, 09:55 AM   #4
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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Dear Karin and Jesse,

Thank you both. I am not worried about the actual process of applying the leaf, more about the content and smoothness of the underlying surface, and how to seal it...I will do a little experimenting in my spare time (what is that?)

I can see the problem of controlling the leaf on a wet surface, so it makes sense perhaps to let the overall surface dry, then apply sizing (?) or maybe some Galkyd (?) or red paint (?) to the leaf area, place the leaf, then varnish overall..(?)

Chris
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