About Gilding

GILDING: the application of thin sheets of precious or non-precious metals to a surface for decorative purposes.

Gold Leaf is generally 22-24K and pounded into thin sheets and packaged as 3 inch squares with 25 sheets per “book” and 20 books per pack. One pack covers 39 sq. ft. and weighs between 17 and 21 grams.

Precious leaf includes: gold, palladium, silver, and silver/gold alloy leafs. Silver leaf can be treated with dyes and is available in all colors.

Brass Leaf, also called metal leaf, composition leaf, Dutch metal, and imitation gold, is an alloy of copper and zinc. Packaged the same as gold leaf but the sheets are 5 inch squares. One pack covers105 sq. ft. Non-precious leaf includes copper, aluminum, and fumed “decorative” leaf.

Gilder’s Clay or bole, is mined and processed. Its ability to take a polish enables the gold to take on its highly reflective quality after being burnished with an agate. In Ralph Mayer’s The Artist’s Handbook, he describes clay as “Various native red oxides of iron or clays colored with iron.”

Rabbit skin glue is a protein based glue used as a binder in gesso and gilder’s clay.

Gesso is composed of calcium carbonate (whiting), rabbit skin glue or gelatin, and water. These ingredients are combined. They are warmed to a brushable consistency and several layers are applied. Gesso can be carved or “re-cut” to replace detail lost in the ornament during gessoing.

Gelatin, a refined protein glue, has less of the adhesive properties of rabbit skin glue or hide glue, and more of the glutean qualities.