Category Archives: FAQ

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOOSE AND TRANSFER?

Loose leaf is leaf placed loosely between the sheets of the book. The leaf cannot be handled and is normally lifted directly from the book with a special brush, tip or tweezers (see tools) and then placed onto the surface. Transfer leaf is leaf placed on a sheet of wax or tissue paper within the book which is larger than the leaf, therefore each sheet can be removed individually. It can then be placed face down and with slight pressure the metal will be released onto the surface, rather like a child’s transfer. It is usually easier to use transfer leaf then loose

HOW DO WE HANDLE THE GOLD AND SILVER?

Gold or Silver leaf cannot be handle, it will stick to the warmth of your hand, we supply brushes, tips and tweezers. please refer “What is the difference between loose or transfer” to ensure you use the best leaf for your requirements.

BASIC TOOLS USED IN GILDING

1. GILDER’S CUSHION

This is a piece of MDF approximately 9 inches by 6 inches.  It is covered with thick blanket and the stretched over this is a soft calf skin leather, this is tacked into position to the four edges of the board.  At one end and partly round two sides is a parchment or strong card windshield which is approximately 4 inches high, made to fold flat when not in use.  The parchment/card sides when raised shelter the Gold Leaf whilst working, as the slightest draught will lift the Gold from the cushion and it is an almost impossible task to recover the leaf from the floor or anywhere else it may fall, due to the leaf being so thin.  On the underside of the cushion is a leather loop for your thumb when holding the cushion.  This enables the cushion to be held like a palette when in use.  There is also a leather patch to hold a gilders knife.

2. GILDERS KNIFE

This is a scale tang knife with either a stainless steel or a carbon steel square blade with a dark wooden handle.  The blade is fairly flexible and not too sharp.  This is used for cutting the leaves of Gold Leaf into smaller pieces when placed onto the Gilders Cushion.

3. GILDERS TIP

Made in various widths and consisting of either squirrel hair, pony hair or badger hair, sandwiched between two pieces of thin cardboard.  The hair of the tip is gently brushed against the side of you face to build up some static or grease to attract the gold leaf to the tip from the booklets or cushion prior to being placed on the surface to be gilded. 

4. GILDERS MOP

A domed mop brush made from squirrel hair or pony hair, this is used to gently brush over the Gold Leaf once applied to the surface you are gilding.  This brushes the leaf into place and brushes away any excess leaf.

5. AGATE BURNISHERS

Made from highly polished agate set in wooden handles, this is gently rubbed against the Gold Leaf to burnish to a high shine.  These available in many shapes and sizes, the most popular being No.22 known as the dog tooth.

6. PARCHMENT CLIPPINGS/RABBIT SKIN GLUE

Size made with Parchment Clippings is by far the best.  This is prepared by boiling 110grams of clippings with 1 Litre of water.  The clippings should be simmered with the pan nearly covered for 1 – 1 1/2 hours by which time the liquid will have been reduced to almost half its original amount.  Whilst still hot, strain the liquid to remove the remaining clippings.  Once the size has cooled it should be the consistency of jelly.  If you prefer to use Rabbit Skin Glue then you will need to soak 45 grams of the granules in 750ml water overnight.  Liquefy it by warming it in a saucepan, do not allow to boil.  Rabbit Skin Glue is also used in the making of gesso when mixed with whiting and as the biding agent bole.

7. WHITING

Whiting is used for applying to surfaces prior to gilding, to act as a resist, in order for surplus Gold Leaf to be easily removed.  It is also used in the preparation of gesso and mixed with Rabbit Skin Glue.

8. GESSO

A mixture of Rabbit Skin Glue and Whiting, this is to be warmed and then used as a surface coating prior to gilding or to repair damaged and brittle frames, mirrors and furniture.  It can also be used as a glue to join broken pieces of old gesso or plaster and moulded to fill in missing parts.

9. BOLE

Bole is a clay like substance that is used as a base for gilding.  It is applied to a prepared surface.  The bole enhances the tone and lustre of the Gold during the burnishing process.  Bole is a natural product and is available in various different colours.  Some boles are already pre-mixed and ready to use where as some need to be mixed with Rabbit Skin Glue until a single cream consistency is reached.

10. GOLD SIZE

This is available in oil-based or water-based.  Oil-based is recommended for exterior work and comes in 1, 3, 4 and 12 hour drying times.  The water-based size is for interior use only and has a drying time of 15-30 minutes.  Both are to be applied as thinly as possible and let to dry at their recommended drying times until which they will become tacky like the dry tack on a post it note.  This is when it is ready to apply the Gold Leaf. 

Gilding Capsules are also used as a size when glass gilding, these are dissolved in water of a ration 4 capsules to 500ml water.

11. GOLD LEAF

This is available in many different shades and carats from 24ct Pure Gold down to 6ct White Gold, the most popular being 23.5ct.  Externally we recommend you use nothing lower than 23.5ct.  Gold Leaf comes in booklets of 25 leaves, each leaf measuring 80mm x 80mm and is available in Loose form and Transfer form.

Loose Leaf – Each leaf of Gold is lay between rouged pages in the booklet and a Gilders Tip is used to remove them.

Transfer Leaf – Each leaf of Gold is adhered to a piece of acid free tissue paper and can be pressed to light, medium or hard press depending on the gilding work being done and how easily you require the leaf to come off the tissue paper.

GILDING ON STONE

When gilding externally on stone we would recommend that you use 23.5ct Gold Leaf or above, as anything lower in carat will tarnish due to the elements outside.

When carving the lettering in stone, hand cut lettering will always look better than sandblasted lettering, this is because the V shape catches the light and reflects the Gold.  If sandblast lettering, try not to blast too shallow as this will make the leaf look flat and will not last very long or too deeply as this can make the leaf look bronzed and will not reflect the light.

Once the lettering is all ready it will need an undercoat either in the form of Transparent Sealer or a gloss enamel paint.  This seals the stone prior to gilding so it is no longer porous and will not absorb the gold size. You may need more than one coat of undercoat and this will need to dry hard before applying the Gold Size.

Once dry, it is now ready to apply the Gold Size, this will need to be an oil based Gold Size and many Gilders prefer the tinted size which is off a yellow ochre colour, this enables the gilder to see where they have painted the size and also if any small parts have been missed when gilding, this will not show as it will blend in, being close in colour.  Most preferably when gilding on stone most gilders use the Lymmit  1 hour tinted gold size.  This is brushed onto the lettering thinly and once tacky like the dry tack on a post it note it is then ready to apply the Gold Leaf.  The drying time for the size and enamel may vary depending on the temperature of where you are working.  It will be anything from approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Most Monumental Masons use Loose Gold Leaf when gilding on stone and there are several ways to apply the leaf, everybody having their own technique that works for them.  The leaf is usually rolled from the booklet onto the prepared lettering and then brushed over with a Gilders Mop to brush away any excess leaf.  If the lettering is not too small and deep Transfer Leaf can be used which when working outside can be easier for you as it eliminates the risk of the leaf blowing away.  The Transfer Leaf is adhered to a piece of acid free tissue paper and this is placed Gold faced down onto the prepared lettering and then with a rubber eraser or a soft cloth, gently rub the back of the tissue paper and this will allow the leaf to be released from the tissue paper.  Again, gently brush over the gold leaf with a Gilders Mop to brush away any excess leaf. 

Once the gilding has all been completed this should be left to allow the size/paint to dry hard.  Once it is completely dry you can then use a sharp blade to scrape away the excess size/paint and undercoat.  Wash away all residue with clean water.

To pick out colour on headstones, Monumental Masons use Wright-it Gloss Enamel Paints or One Shot Gloss Enamel Paints, these are available in a large range of colours, in 118ml, 236ml and 250ml tins.

TOOLS USED IN GILDING ON STONE

Transparent Sealer – Series 3886, Available in 250ml

Wright-it Gloss Enamel Paints – Series 6263- **, Available in a wide range of colours in 250ml tins

One Shot Gloss Enamel Paints – Series 6280-**, Available in a wide range of colours in 118ml & 236ml tins

Lymmit Gold Size – Series 3890 & 3891, Available in 1 hour and 4 hour drying times and in Clear or Tinted, 250ml tins

Ox Hair FillingIn Brushes – Series 1392, available in 12mm, 18mm, 25mm, 37mm, 50mm, 75mm and 100mm

Squirrel Hair Gilders Mops – Series 1420 & 1422, available in Sizes 2,4,6,8 and 10

Gold Leaf Loose & Transfer – Available in carats from 24ct down to 6ct, Palladium Leaf, Genuine Silver Leaf, Imitation Gold & Silver Leaf, Copper Leaf.