Gilding is the craft of applying thin layers of gold or silver leaf to a surface, a technique dating back to ancient Egypt.
Before You Begin: Selecting Leaf
Step 1: Prepare the Chair
Step 2: Create a Sticky Base
Step 3: Prepare the Leaf
Step 4: Apply the Leaf
Step 5: Wrap the Entire Frame
Step 6: Smooth the Leaf
Step 7: Burnish and Fill Gaps
Step 8: Give the Final Burnish
Step 9: Protect the Surface
Gold purity is measured in carats, with each carat representing 1/24 purity by weight. Twenty-four carat gold is pure gold, 18 carat is 75% gold, and so on. For interior surface gilding, 22 carat is sufficient. Below, we break down leaf types for you.
• Gold: 92% gold leaf; 22 carat, sufficient for interior surfaces
• Silver: Pure 100% silver; like all silver, it will tarnish
• Copper: Pure 100% copper leaf
• Aluminum: Pure 100% aluminum leaf
• Dutch metal: Imitation gold leaf made from copper and zinc
• Veriegated: Metal leaf chemically treated to create
Sand the chair lightly, then apply two coats of oil-based primer/sealer. When dry, apply two coats of oil-based gloss paint. Red is often used as a base for gold and black for silver, but either color can be used.
Apply the size in smooth, even strokes. It quickly becomes tacky as it dries. It's ready for leaf when a knuckle pressed lightly on the surface makes a clicking sound when removed.
Metal leaf comes separated by sheets of paper. Wear cotton gloves to prevent tarnishing and lift each leaf slowly with as little contact as possible. Don't crumple, fold or tear the sheet.
Carefully wrap a sheet around the leg of a chair, then continue applying and overlapping sheets.
Continue wrapping the leaf around the frame until it's totally covered. Don't be concerned with the finish now; at this point, it should resemble a poorly wrapped roast.
Use a soft, round artist's brush to gently work the leaf into the nooks, crannies and hollows. Use a circular, dabbing motion for best results.
Rub a gloved hand gently over the surface to remove surplus leaf. Use scrap pieces to fill areas where the base coat shows through.
Give the entire frame a final rubdown with a gloved hand to create a shiny surface. Work slowly, continuing to patch any holes or gaps with scrap leaf.
Use a brush to apply clear shellac over the entire surface. Begin at the top and work down, taking care to cover all areas.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.