Gilding Techniques

Gilding has been used since the Renaissance to give furniture an expensive appearance. This is done by applying gilding to certain parts of the furniture, thereby highlighting and accentuating certain parts. In the past, gold leaf, which was very expensive at all times, was commonly used for this purpose.

Today there is a wonderful alternative – gilding. It is much cheaper and can be perfectly applied to any surface. The technology of the process is much easier, and therefore the gilding of furniture with gold leaf has an affordable price and is done quickly enough.

Gold leaf is a very thin film of gold that is glued on furniture, stucco and other items for decoration. Gold leaf has a considerable cost, because it takes two kilograms of gold to produce a kilo of gold leaf. So, gilding furniture with mosaic is a pleasure, to put it mildly, not of the cheapest.

Not everything that glitters is gold… Gilding is the process of applying gold on wood, metal, glass, or ceramic. Frauds abound, and a buyer should exercise extra caution while making a transaction, hence the importance of this essay.

Gilding is the application of gold on wood, metal, glass, or ceramic. It is also, by extension, the coating of copper or another metal that imitates gold, such as a silver layer topped with a golden varnish.

To get to the heart of the issue, the fundamental approaches should be presented first. There is also a relatively inexpensive alternative to gold leaf – gilding. This material looks a lot like gold leaf, but it does not contain precious metals. To be more specific, it is made of an alloy of zinc and copper (to get the color of gold) or silver and aluminum (for the color of silver). The gilding is a complete imitation of gold leaf, which is why it is a favorite in the creation of furniture, particularly by the Italians.

Of course, technology has come a long way, and now the production of gold leaf is radically different from the process of a few centuries ago. Previously, to obtain the most delicate gold leaf, a piece of gold was flattened on an anvil with a hammer and then worked for many hours with hammers of various weights. It was only after all this effort that the thinnest gold film was obtained, tens of times thinner than our hair. Of course, today’s gold leaf is made not by the incredible strength of the workers, but by the precision of computer-controlled machines.

Applying gold leaf – gilding – is quite a labor-intensive process that requires experience and special skills. Of course, if you try very hard, you can independently master this work, but most often you need to turn to professionals.

Oil gilding is most commonly used because of its comparative simplicity. It is suitable for many surfaces: wood, glass, metal, and plaster. With this method, you can get a matte surface without a bright sheen. In oil gilding, the surface is ground, and the gold leaf is applied to it (on the mordant – a special oil varnish). Because of the oil varnish, it is no longer possible to polish the gold leaf, so the surface remains matte. Due to the oil gilding surface has excellent resistance to moisture and temperature changes.

The glue method is the oldest type of gilding, which requires a lot of time and effort.  It is preferred for furniture made of natural wood and polyurethane. It is interesting that over the centuries of the existence of this method, its technique has not changed.

Glue gilding includes:

  1. sanding the surface,
  2. application of primer to a previously prepared surface,
  3. application of polymentum,
  4. preparation of the levkas and its application, – gluing the gilding sheets.


When is gold leaf used and when is gold gilding used?

Gold leaf is rationally used for gilding icons, coats of arms, and exclusive things of a small area.
Fuller’s gold is used for gilding walls, ceilings, stucco, and furniture, i.e. when the coverage area is large and the use of gold leaf becomes unreasonably expensive.

Do you also coat silver and copper?

Yes, we coat interior objects with natural silver and

How do I get the gold in the shade I want?

Leaf-gold and gold leaf can be made darker by covering with natural shellac or antique bitumen. You can also choose a patina color that suits you.

Does the gold leaf or gilding need to be coated?

Yes, we highly recommend fixing the gold leaf and gilding with shellac or acrylic varnish to avoid mechanical damage to the coating. The gold leaf materials are thin enough to be easily scratched by a fingernail or other objects. It is also necessary to fix the gilding so that it does not oxidize in humid areas.

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