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Tutorial – gold leafing and gold leafing round objects

by Sayraphim on September 14, 2009

Gold leafing seems pretty tricky, but it’s actually really simple. For the puppet play I’m working on we decided that we’ll copper leaf some sticks, to give them a fancy edge. Which explains the photos :)

You’ll need:
gold leaf (or silver or copper or whatever)
gold leaf adesive (can be purchased where ever gold leaf is sold)
matt varnish
a paintbrush you don’t mind ruining
your object
and if your object is round, then some plastic food wrap

Step one:
Grab your object and paint the glue on. It’ll go on blue/white, which makes it easy to see where you’ve covered and where you’ve missed.

Once the item is covered, you need to put it aside to dry. Once it dries, it will go clear and you’ll know it’s ready to use. Don’t fret, it dries tacky or sticky (no pun intended) and that’s how the foil sticks to the object.

Step two:
Make a cup of tea and have a bit of a sit while you wait for it to dry.

Step three:
Once the object’s glue as gone clear, lay it down on newspapers on your worksurface. If you are foiling for rounded objects, lay out a big strip of plastic food wrap.

step four:
Now you need the gold foil out of it’s packet. Make sure all windows and doors are shut, even the slightest breeze will make this whole process almost impossible. Open the packet and take out the whole lot very carefully. There’s always paper layers between each sheet. Peel one sheet off, then carefully place the rest of the foil sheets back in the packet. If your object is much smaller than the foil sheet (the sheets are less than A5) then it’s probably best to cut the sheet to size and place the rest of it back in the packet. Here I’ve cut the foil a bit wider than I’ve estimated the diameter of the stick will be.

Step four part B:
Again, for rounded objects, I’ve laid the copper foil in an approximation of the shape of the stick on the wrap. If you have a flat item, lay the foil gently down onto the item. As soon as the foil touches the glue, it’ll be stuck there forever. But the appearance of foil is always a little wrinkly and that’s ok. You can use a clean paint brush to smooth the foil down, but you’ll probably find that it gets sticky with glue very quickly, and then the foil will stick to the brush more than it sticks to the item. Try using a little square of plastic wrap that you can throw out and get a clean one when it gets sticky from the glue. Which it will. Trust me.

Step five:
Here is the clever bit for rounded stuff. Place the item down onto the foil and then pick up the plastic, item, foil and all. You can now wrap the foil around the stick carefully using the plastic to keep your fingers away from the glue. If there’s any spaces on the item that hasn’t been covered in foil, you can cut a little more from the sheet and place it in the space.

Step six:
Now remove the item from the plastic wrap and run your fingers up and down it, smoothing down any foil that might still be sticking up a little.

Step seven:
Paint the varnish on, which will protect the foil and thus your object. Place it aside for the varnish to dry, and you’re done!

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