Published July 19, 2012
The technique of gilding has been around for many years. History has shown that it has been dated as far back as the Egyptians who used the technique on their burial caskets and other objects. From there, the Romans used gilding as decoration on many of their buildings and temples.
Today, the technique of gilding today is used extensively for many home décor projects including walls, ceilings, lamps, accessories, mirrors, mirror frames, statues, light fixtures, furniture, glass, stucco, wood, and textiles. The technique is easy to master and consists basically of applying sheets of imitation gold or silver leaf to various surfaces. The imitation gold is made up of various alloys used to imitate gold such as copper and tin, copper and aluminum, and copper and zinc.
Gilding expert, Evangelia Kondiilis, offers some great tips for you “do-it-yourself” types that may be interested in adding new life to a bathroom or perhaps something smaller like a lamp or mirror.
To begin it is important to ensure the surface you are wishing to gild is free of any wax, grease or dirt. The surface should be completely clean and lightly sanded. Using a foam brush paint on an even coat of gilder’s size (which is an adhesive that allows the sheets of gold leaf to stick to the surface) and allow the size to cure for approximately 1 hour. One way to check for tackiness is by tapping your knuckle onto the size & when it feels tacky it’s ready.
Once the surface is cured, use a gilder’s tip (small brush) to pick up a piece of gold leaf. *Tip: use a small amount of Vaseline on the gilder’s tip to make it easier for the sheet of gold to adhere to the end of the brush.
Next, apply the gold leaf sheet to the surface and use a soft brush to smooth out any rough wrinkles and edges. Once your surface is complete its important that the entire surface be sealed with a lacquer varnish to avoid tarnishing. Another important tip is to make sure you purchase the right brush for the right kind of surface you are gilding. Different surfaces require different brushes.