To create a convincing antique gold finish it is essential to use a metal leaf, none of the gold paints or waxes manage to achieve a convincing facsimile. Fortunately imitation gold metal leaf is cheap and easy to apply.
This metal leaf comes in books of 25 leaves, 5 inches square. It is thicker than genuine gold and can be handled with the fingers if clean and grease free.
We will need:
1. The article to be gilded, the wood should be clean and dust free.
2. Imitation gold metal leaf.
3. Blonde de waxed shellac flakes, this acts as an adhesive for the leaf and as a final coat to the work.
4. Methylated spirit.denatured alcohol; this is used to make the shellac lacquer.
5. A little burnt umber oil paint, this is used to create the antique effect, it is called an antique glaze.
6. Suitable paint brushes.
The shellac lacquer is prepared by mixing 1 part shellac flakes to 4 parts denatured alcohol/methylated spirits. Allow to stand in a warm room for 24 hours stirring occasionally until all the flakes have dissolved. The lacquer is now ready to use.
Apply a coat of lacquer to the wooden surface; I suggest working with a small area at a time as the lacquer dries quickly.
Then pick up a piece of gold metal leaf… you may cut the leaf up into smaller pieces… and lay it down onto the lacquer, don’t worry abut the leaf overlapping.
When you have finished applying the leaf, allow to dry for an hour, then using a soft cloth brush off the surplus gold.
Now apply a thin coat of lacquer over the leaf, the lacquer will tint the gold a little, which is all part of the process.
Now we are going to apply the antique glaze. Using a pad of cotton wool and a little of the brown oil paint, rub the paint all over the surface of the leaf, a little goes a long way so don’t use too much, you want a thin film of paint.
Then using a clean soft rag, wipe of the surplus antique glaze and polish.
Leave the work to dry overnight, the next morning polish the work again.
You will find that the antique glaze has altered the colour of the gold leaf and it now has a lovely antique gold finish.
Lastly apply a coat of lacquer over the glaze and allow to dry.
And that’s it, a simple method of laying imitation gold leaf and how to apply an antique glaze.
By Richard Norman