How to Paint on Gold Leaf

Written by lisa east hunter
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Gold leaf used in the gilding process is a great way to convert something old and outdated into an elegant piece of artwork. The concept of gilding is to paint on small pieces of gold leaf so that they seamlessly overlap, giving the effect that the item has been dipped in gold. Gold leaf can be purchased at most art supply stores. Typically, the sheets of gold leaf are made from a combination of zinc and copper that closely resembles real gold.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Item to be gilded
  • Cleanser
  • Damp rag
  • Scissors
  • Foam brush
  • Adhesive
  • Small artist's paint brush
  • Clean paintbrush
  • Sealant

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  1. 1

    Clean the item you wish to apply gold leaf to thoroughly to remove any grease and residue. Wipe it with a clean, damp rag to remove any residue from the cleanser. Allow the item to dry completely.

  2. 2

    Cut your sheets of gold leaf into small, manageable pieces. The size of the pieces will depend on the size of the item you are going to cover. Larger items like picture frames can be covered using larger pieces of leaf, while a small item like a jewellery box should be gilded using small pieces for more precision. Set the pieces aside until you are ready to apply them to your item.

  3. 3

    Cover the item with adhesive using a small foam brush. Let the glue set until it begins to get tacky.

  4. 4

    Pick up one piece of gold leaf with the tip of your brush. Apply the leaf to the accessory and paint over it until it begins to mould onto the item.

  5. 5

    Apply a second piece of gold leaf slightly overlapping the previous piece. Use your paint brush to feather the seams of the two pieces until they create a seamless bond. Continue applying pieces of gold leaf until your item is completely covered. Allow the items to dry completely.

  6. 6

    Use a clean paint brush to apply a coat of sealant over your gilded item.

Tips and warnings

  • The same technique can be used to apply a copper or silver finish to your accessories. The only change to the process is the use of silver leaf or copper leaf in place of the gold.

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