How to Gold Leaf Window Signs

Written by fiona fearey
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How to Gold Leaf Window Signs
Gold leaf can be applied to window signs. (goldleaf image by Charles Taylor from

Professional-looking window displays help attract potential customers and clients. One of the first things people should see is a shop's name. Many traditional window signs contain black-outlined letters filled in with gold leaf. The letters can be painted by hand or printed with a silkscreen. Filling in the letters with gold leaf is a surprisingly simple project. With a few basic tools and practice, anyone can become a proficient at applying gold leaf to glass windows.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Water-based size adhesive
  • Size brush
  • Gold leaf
  • Gilder's tip
  • Powder puff
  • Small paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Apply water-based size, an adhesive used in metal gilding, to the interior side of the window. Use care to apply size to fill in outlined letters, without going outside of them. Allow size to set up properly. It should be slightly tacky when it is ready, similar to rubber cement after it has dried. If the size dries too quickly, add a drop of dishwashing liquid, advised Robert Frese of signmaking company Chicagold, in "SignCraft Magazine."

  2. 2

    Carefully remove a sheet of gold leaf from the gold leaf booklet using a gilder's tip. Working from left to to right (if right handed, the opposite if left handed), touch the leaf to sized area. Gently press to ensure that it has adhered. Follow with other sheets of gold leaf until sized surface has been covered.

  3. 3

    Allow the gold and the size to dry thoroughly. Gently press the gold-leafed letters with a powder puff to burnish the surface, making sure that all gold leaf has adhered. Use powder puff to flick away excess gold leaf.

  4. 4

    Inspect writing for any areas of missing gold. Carefully apply size with a small brush to these areas. Wait for size to set up. Use leftover gold scraps for touch-ups. Remove excess leaf with powder puff.

Tips and warnings

  • If real gold is too expensive, use another type of metal leaf.
  • Place a little hand cream on your hand and brush gilder's tip over your hand to help leaf stick to gilder's tip.
  • Gold lettering can be backed with a coat of black ink, followed by a coat of varnish to protect the work.

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