Pittsburgh-GildingCreate allure with a graceful golden touch

The centuries old art of applying gold leaf to a surface catapults an object into the realm of incomparable beauty. There are two traditional ways to apply gold leaf to a surface: water gilding and oil gilding. Water gilding yields the most brilliant and reflective surface, while oil gilding yields a matte finish.

Whether water or oil gilding, proper surface preparation is key to both the longevity and success of the finish.

Traditional types of gilding:

  • Water gilding. The surface is prepped with layers of gesso and clay. The surface is then wet with water, a leaf of gold is picked up with a special brush (known as a gilderís tip), and the gold is quickly laid onto the wet surface. Once applied, the leaf can be burnished to a high degree of reflectivity and luminosity that no other process can replicate.
  • Oil gilding. The surface is coated with an oil-based resin and allowed to come to tack. When the resin is almost dry, the leaf is picked up with the gilderís tip and laid on the surface.† Although bright, the gold cannot be burnished as it can with water gilding.

Not sure if your piece is worthy of gold? Putting gold on a piece of furniture, frame, business sign, or architectural ornament that isnít already beautiful, wonít make it so. But, if the object is beautiful without doing anything to it, then the gold enhances the character of the piece.