Application Tips for Gold Leaf

      Gold leaf gilding methods explained. December 9, 2010

Does anyone know how they laid up the gold leaf on these cabinets?

Click here for higher quality, full size image

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
It does not look burnished (high metallic sheen), therefore it is most likely not water gilding, which requires a complicated base preparation with gesso and sizing/gilding clay (bole) as well as burnishing. It appears to be oil gilding, which just requires a smooth surface, an optional coat of red or yellow to make gaps in the gold less visible and to improve the depth of color of the gold, and a (not optional) coat of oil size. The oil size comes in 3 and 12 hour type. The 3 hour takes about 3 hours to dry and then remains tacky enough to apply the leaf for 3 hours. Same deal, 12 and 12, for the 12 hour. Top coating is optional also. Lots of suppliers of leaf and size online, and several sites with gilding instructions.

From the original questioner:
How do you achieve the brick look? Does the substrate need to be carved out for the particular pattern? And could this be coated with, say, MagnaMax lacquer without to much effort?

From contributor C:
I can't tell from the picture, but that running bond brick look is probably just the seams of the leaf. Lay out the desired pattern with a pencil. I have had problems using pre-cats such as Magnamax and have been using ML Campbell's MagnaKlear acrylic lacquer. Someone wrote in another thread that synthetic topcoats over organic sizing are never a good idea, which is true. You should never topcoat a reversible finish with a catalyzed finish, even pre-cat.

From contributor S:
The brick look will be easier to achieve using patent gold leaf than loose leaf. The borders are just the background (whatever background you have chosen) allowed to show by not overlapping your leaf and instead leaving a small gap.

From contributor G:
Contributor S, I think you are right. It's also possibile that it was done with schlag metal, using a block that has edge tarnished naturally or has been treated to color the edges. Can't get any sense of scale to tell if we are looking at 3 1/4 inch or 6 inch leaf.

I'm also wondering if it is a manufactured wallpaper (I have seen such), or if it was done with metallic wallpaper squares (like old tea chest paper work, a kind of decoupage). I think any of those could get that look, but the best job would be carat leaf laid with a bit of gap as you suggest.

From contributor W:
Yes, it is gold leaf. The brick pattern comes from the gold leaf when it is laid on the surface. But doing a gild finish on a big cabinet is quite difficult. You need skilled people to do the glue and leaf layering. It is a long process and requires a special room to prevent dust and weather problems.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2017 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article