The Art of the Gold Gilding Process

  • May 6, 2019

The gold gilding is very detailed and artistic. It takes time to master such skills, but it is also an opportunity to offer something unique and amazing at the same time. The process allows the fine details of various pieces of furniture to come to life. Often, such items have engraved areas which are hand carved. Over time, they can start to fade, and this method can restore them to their natural beauty.

Gold gilding can be completed on various types of furniture. It can also be completed on those with various types of materials. The process involved various oils that enhance the elements and bring out those natural definitions. Gold leaf is the common element in this process, and it has been used to decorate furniture and various pieces of art for thousands of years.

It is known in many cultures due to the beauty it offers. The reflection of natural sunlight or lighting in a home can help to bring the deep color and the details of the design to life. It is hard not to be in awe of it as you admire the finished appearance. There are plenty of cultures and even social classes around the world where you will find this gold leaf to be found. There is no question it is going to capture the eye of all who see it.

Research indicates the gilding process is very old, and it has a link to many different cultures and backgrounds. The earliest findings of using gold leaf are credited to the Egyptians. They date back to the 23rd Century. While there are some other designs from earlier times, they have been tested. They are actually a type of gold foil rather than gold leaf.

Applying Gold Leaf

As amazing as the gold leaf appearance may be, it takes quite a bit of talent and skill to apply it successfully. The material isn’t easy to work with and it is also expensive. It has to be applied slowly and precisely. When it is completed in such a manner, it will look absolutely flawless! Once of the well-known experts is Bart Bjornberg. He has over 30 years of experience working with Gold Leaf. He has a Master’s of Science in Historic Preservation.

The process of applying gold leaf to any object is referred to a gilding. The layer has to be evenly applied to give it a uniform look when it dries. An adhesive is applied to the surface of the object and then the gold leaf is applied to it. The quality of the adhesive and the gold leaf used significantly influence the outcome and overall appearance. You can’t cut corners with it.

Due to the high cost of gold leaf, some providers of gold gilding use a composition leaf in its place. This is a mix of copper and tin which works well but costs significantly less. Others use mica and bronze powders to create a paint that looks similar to the gold leaf. They can look very good when they are completed, but they will never be able to have the same appeal and beauty as actual gold leaf. The other drawback is they will discolor over time.

The Art of Gold Gilding

It can be exciting to learn the art of gilding. It takes time and patience. You will need the right tools to get quality results. The process involves using very thin sheets of paradox and then transforming it to other materials that look like gold which has been polished. The materials may be delicate, but they are much stronger than you may think. The sheets of gold leaf are quite fragile, so they must be handled carefully.

You should never handle them without gloves on because that can result in them tearing or falling apart. This can happen as you move them from one location to the other. Keep in mind, gold leaf isn’t capable of supporting its own weight! Yet it is truly amazing that the form of gold leaf isn’t going to deteriorate over time or tarnish. The exception to this is if the object it is on becomes unstable at any point.

Methods of Repairing Gilding

There are actually two methods used for the processing of gold leaf. One of them is oil based and the other is water based. Both methods use the same gold. The oil based is often preferred because it offers a very lovely coat on the surface. The process takes less time and it is more forgiving if you aren’t precise with your movements. If you are going to use oil for gold gilding, the surface must be sealed before you begin to apply it.

The sealant is typically made from linseed oil that has been boiled. Make sure the oil is completely dry and the environment of your object is free of just. This process will offer tackiness for the object for the gold leaf to successfully adhere to. If you try to apply the gold leaf before the oil is completely dry, you will ruin it.

Water gilding is often used for wood. A mix of gesso and bole are created. The gesso is animal hide glue and calcium carbonate. The bole is animal or fish based glue with clay. The combined mixture is covered with the gold leaf. You can choose to leave it in a matte state or to give it an burnish look for additional sheen.

It takes far more time and skill to complete the water gilding process. However, the outcome is going to be very detailed and very beautiful. This process tends to be saved for more expensive items. The work should only be completed by someone with a very high level of skill.

Types of Objects for Gold Gilding

There are quite a few objects which can benefit from the gilding process. Some of common ones include:

  • Architectural ornaments
  • Art work
  • Ceramics
  • Furniture
  • Mirror frames
  • Picture frames
  • Sculptures

There are few processes out there for such items that can even come close to the art of gilding. The amount of depth and design they offer is in high demand. The gold works very well with a wide range of colors. The best ones that bring out the design and the color include:

  • Beige
  • Bright white
  • Natural dark brown
  • Pastels
  • Shades of red

Nicole Lewis

E-mail : ryan@rethinknetworks.com