Silver and Gold Leafing

We Are Proud to Be Your Bucks County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia Gold and Silver Leaf Gilding Contractors!

Gilding is the laying of fine metals, precious and semi-precious, and to surfaces and objects (often called “gilt”) to give the object the appearance of being made of the metal used. It had been a very secretive profession until rather recently with the advent of the Society of Gilders (SOG), an international group of gilders who share the correct way to gild. Today, it is much easier than it was in the past to get the  leafing recipes correct. With some training and lots of practice, this ancient art form is at your fingertips and will able to be applied to your Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, or Philadelphia PA, home. We offer our services for wood, plaster or metal surfaces.

The two primary methods of gilding that we provide—water gilding and oil gilding, are available to commercial and residential property owners  and are further described below.

What is Water Gilding?

Water gilding is only used for interior applications and is most frequently used on frames, furniture, and objects of art. Preparation of the surface for this more intense application, is as follows- Glue size is applied to the wood. Numerous coats (6 to 10) of gesso are applied, re-carved, sanded, and polished. Several coats (usually 3) of gilder’s clay (bole) are applied to wood and polished. Gold leaf is then applied using gilder’s liquor which activates the glue present in the bole and gesso. At this point, the gold leaf may be left as is, providing a matte appearance, or may be burnished with the polished agate. In order to further accentuate the burnished surfaces some areas of the gilding are left matte. Of the two types of gilding, water gilt is the only method of applying gold leafing that allows the surface to be burnished which provides the high reflectivity. This method is used on high quality frames and objects d’art . We repair frame damage ,matching the gold finish. Also we can make a less expensive frame shine with the use of “tipping off” the high points of a frames detail for a beautiful make over.

What is Oil Gilding?

Oil gilding (Mordant)  requires that the surface be completely sealed and then a size is applied. After a period of time the size comes to tack. At this point, the gold leaf is laid on the tacky surface. This technique does not allow the gold leaf to be burnished, and thus does not provide the brilliant finish of the water method. The oil method allows gilding on a wider variety of surfaces than the water method, and is the technique used for exterior surfaces projects such as signs, architecture, ceilings, walls and less expensive frames. The gilding process requires a very specialized set of tools, brushes and materials. One of the most interesting brushes being the gilders tip. This is a badger hair brush with approximately five hairs deep running three or four inches wide. It is used to pick up the fine gold, silver and palladium leaf, which is about 1/10,000 of an inch thick, with the help of static electricity and the oils from your skin on the tip of the brush. The semi-precious metals are thicker and also react  with the use of chemicals to create a variety of colors in an organic natural patina. These consist of copper leaf, Dutch metal (aka composition leaf, and Aluminum leaf) . Gold leaf and platinum (or white gold) do not react and are burnished for a beautiful finish. Aluminum leaf also does not react easily and so must be glazed to create a patina. Silver leaf reacts to almost anything and must be coated with a protective layer of varnish or it will turn.

For more information on either method  Colkett Painting can provide to residential and commercial property in the Delaware County, Bucks County, Montgomery County or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania areas, please contact us today. Also please take a moment to view our gold leaf and gilding portfolio to see the services we have provided to homes in the Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia and Delaware County, PA areas.