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Thread: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

  1. #1
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    Default Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    This probably belongs on a gilding forum somewhere but you guys know A LOT...OK, so I am about to start my first gilding of anything. Doing my boat's name boards - transom, hail and two nav light boards (as discussed in another thread). They are incised/carved into teak. I have reviewed..oh, 300 videos...on the topic.. so am as prepared as I can be I guess. Boards have 3 coats of CPES. Was planning on putting one coat of McCloskey MOW varnish before going at the gold leaf. Will lightly sand the letters after one coat varnish, put down a gold/yellow base coat and let dry. Then pounce the whole thing before sizing. My question(s) are:

    1) What is the best way to get the gold leaf up to "top" of the letter, where it meets the flat board, in a nice straight line, without folding over on to the board? I will be adding a thin black painted outline of the letters so it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect but still...I see some people use painters tape to mask the letters and cut them out with a razor blade so only the letter is exposed. Other I see free hand the size. Seems like the tape technique, although labor intensive, would be safest for the beginner?

    2) Another question on the above, when I painted letters in the past I didn't worry too much bout neatness as I could come back and sand the flat part of the board to get rid of any over painting. Can that be done with gold leaf?

    3) Second question is do I use an agate burnishing tool on the gold leaf after application or will the light rubbing with cheese cloth or cotton ball smooth it out?

    Thanks in advance for any comments or help!
    Last edited by hdsteele; 08-06-2017 at 08:55 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    If you were to do some simple tests/experiments on scrap stock, prior to working on your actual name board, you would discover all of the answers to your questions. This would be real knowledge to you.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    It is a matter of bending the tissue that holds the gold into the crease of the carving. Sometimes a short bristle camel hair brush will assist in tapping the material into the crease. I normally use one that is an inch to an inch and a half in width. Be sure that the size is tacky to the knuckle prior to starting the leafing. If it is at all gooey you should wait for further set up. Some times I use my longer finger nails ,that I use for classic guitar playing, to get into the deep Vee creases. The flesh pad of the finger tip also can help set the gold as long as the tissue is on it. The pounce is very important to keep gold off of places where you don't want it to stick. Normally an agate tool is used to produce a high polish to gold on things such as Rococo picture frames. A special clay ground must be laid on first and very smoothly sanded out prior to gold application. Here rabbit skin glue water size is used which has no place on a boat.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 08-06-2017 at 02:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    If you were to do some simple tests/experiments on scrap stock, prior to working on your actual name board, you would discover all of the answers to your questions. This would be real knowledge to you.

    Jeff
    Thanks, which I will do. I had the sign carver give me an extra 18" board with 8 various letters carved on it for practice. Just thought I would start with the questions here to avoid unnecessary "training" such as sanding gold leaf if nobody in their right mind would do that. No need to reinvent the wheel!

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    It is a matter of bending the tissue that holds the gold into the crease of the carving. Sometimes a short bristle camel hair brush will assist in tapping the material into the crease. I normally use one that is an inch to an inch and a half in width. Be sure that the size is tacky to the knuckle prior to starting the leafing. If it is at all gooey you should wait for further set up. Some times I use my longer finger nails ,that I use for classic guitar playing, to get into the deep Vee creases. The flesh pad of the finger tip also can help set the gold as long as the tissue is on it. The pounce is very important to keep gold off of places where you don't want it to stick. Normally an agate tool is used to produce a high polish to gold on things such as Rococo picture frames. A special clay ground must be laid on first and very smoothly sanded out prior to gold application. Here rabbit skin glue water size is used which has no place on a boat.
    Jay
    Thanks Jay. Understand how to get the gold into the creases, just wondering how to get a nice clean edge up top. So no burnishing, in the traditional sense, on these, just a rub with some cotton balls. sounds easier anyway. I assume with the pounce of talc it will guard the flat part of the board and just make sure I get the size up the size. Do you ever suggest or have you ever taped off letters like I described or is that WAY beneath your skill level?

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    You shouldn't have any problem getting a good straight line with carved letters, so I wouldn't worry about it. On flat surfaces, I often use Scotch "Fine Line" (expensive!) tape at the top and bottom of letters so those long straight runs are perfectly fair. It's a "training wheels" sort of approach, but I'm not a sufficiently accomplished sign painter to get the long flat runs perfect and all in a line every time. I find it a lot easier to paint a straight vertical line than I do a horizontal one. Don't bother trying it with regular painter's' masking tape. The lettering paint or size will likely run beneath that. You want the Scotch pale green plastic tape for razor-sharp edges on fine work.

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    You shouldn't have any problem getting a good straight line with carved letters, so I wouldn't worry about it. On flat surfaces, I often use Scotch "Fine Line" (expensive!) tape at the top and bottom of letters so those long straight runs are perfectly fair. It's a "training wheels" sort of approach, but I'm not a sufficiently accomplished sign painter to get the long flat runs perfect and all in a line every time. I find it a lot easier to paint a straight vertical line than I do a horizontal one. Don't bother trying it with regular painter's' masking tape. The lettering paint or size will likely run beneath that. You want the Scotch pale green plastic tape for razor-sharp edges on fine work.

    Thank you Bob. Appreciate the comments. Will practice without and with, see which looks nicer. My wife is a decorative painter but has never gilded anything. She will be doing the outline in black not me! Just want to keep the gold leaf in the fairway so she can cover it up if it does get out of the letter. I believe I saw a video showing someone using an eraser and eraser guard to remove. Maybe try that as needed.

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    for the initial phase of actually getting the gold into the graphics, with "Patent/Surface" gold,
    I use whatever tool it takes to get the gold off the paper and stuck to the size.
    this can be the [clean] fingers (as you are not actually touching the gold itself, just the carrier paper).
    dabbing and daubing until you get gold on all the sized surfaces. then, after that process,
    use the soft bristle brushes to get all the loose gold into the incised area and stuck to the size.
    Once you are satisfied with that, then the larger brushs, such as a shaving brush or whatever you have on hand (as long as it is clean).
    then comes the burnishing - which is done with clean medical grade cotton. (also called "closing the gaps").
    a small vacuum such as the Dust Buster is handy for collecting all the gold remnants.
    put the project away and take a break - go to lunch - then come back and check it out with fresh eyes.


    after all the gold has been applied to the incised areas,
    my favorite tool for "brushing out" incised carvings is the old fashioned shaving brush.
    firm enough to get into tight crevices but smooth enough not to disfigure the gold.
    the loose material (skewings) can easily be pressed (slammed and jammed) into the tight spots.
    very important not to let the size (or paint and varnish) puddle in the bottom of the letters.
    drug stores such as CVS and Walgreens carry an assortment of nice shaving brushes.
    if you use a used brush, it is extremely important to get all the soap residue out of it prior to gilding with it.






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    Last edited by John-1948; 08-12-2017 at 11:04 AM.


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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    You can tape the edges of the letters but it can be a real hassle. Your outlining should cover any ragged edges. Wow, I never thought of using a shaving brush!
    I will have to try that. Still I think the sable flat has its merits.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    John-1948: Damn fine tip, that! Never thought of the shaving brush. Got an antique with Polish bristles that I'll give a shot... very soft but still firm.

    THANKS!!
    Frayed Knot Arts: Fancywork and Rope Jewelry
    http://www.frayedknotarts.com.html[

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    Thanks for the comments. Taping does seem like a PITA but only doing this once not as a career. If it takes some effort then so be it as long as it is worth the effort. I'm not convinced it is but will go naked on the practice pieces and see how it comes out first before committing to taping off 56 carved letters(14 letters on 4 different boards). That is a lot of letters...to me. Shaving brush makes perfect sense but not sure I would have thought of it!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    A problem with taping off something as complex as this is the job must be perfect. If there is the slightest joggle or gap, a missed apex, or other mishap, the eye will be immediately drawn to it. Your tests/experiments will show you the way. Try some of each.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Question on gold leaf technique - Calling Jay Greer!

    also I don't see mentioned that a sliced potato can be used to apply the juice
    to the areas around the incised areas - - - the dried starch will prevent the loose
    gold from sticking. then after all is said and done, wipe the potato starch away with a wet cloth.

    Hal - just do the practice board.... once the whole board is properly sealed and varnished,
    you can practice away. if you are not satisfied with anything, wipe it off with mineral spirits on a soft cloth and do it over.
    I first layed gold 30 years ago and it was a real mess. ( I hope I have improved slightly since then).
    an assortment of soft brushes work well with gold. such as the brushes used for women's cosmetics and makeup.
    dabble the brush bristles on something sticky (such as duct tape) to remove any loose hairs.
    (wear a wig, hat and sunglasses while shopping in the lady's makeup department at wal-mart).


    if you are going to use a shaving brush, the best way to protect the bristles (and keep them clean)
    is to cut the bottom out of a 3oz bathroom paper cup and slide the brush in bottom first.


    Signmakers and Artisans that do a lot of gilding, have a special box to store their gilding tools and supplies in.
    Personally, I like the vintage "all wood" cigar boxes to hold the gold, brushes and whatnot. ($10 on Ebay).

    don't store any liquids or oiled brushes in the box as a small leak could contaminate everything.
    never use a brush that has been used for anything else. (always new, clean and sterile)
    use medical grade cotton for rubbing down (burnishing) the gold..... anything less may have grit or sand in it.
    a small piece of "velvet" material rubbed on the vertical parts will reflect the sunshine horizontally
    which will make your gilded graphics POP when viewed from a distance.

    This is what you can achieve with a little "creative burnishing". it is 3'x3'. black crushed glass on the outside
    and cobalt blue crushed glass on the inside. 23k gold and palladium leaf (silver) on the graphics.
    the circle and triangle are perfectly flat - visually, they appear to be dimensional. the caduceus is handcarve
    complete with scales on the snake that were pressed into the gold with a piece of tin bent into scale shape one by one.








    so remember that the final burnishing is important to the overall look of the sign and how it is viewed by the public.
    vertical scratches (burnishing) reflect the sunlight left and right - horizontal scratches (burnishing) reflects sunlight up and down.
    this technique will give a very professional look to any gilded project. Once it is clear coated, there is nothing you can do to enhance the look.
    agate burnishing has its place - but in my personal opinion, a sign with carved lettering is not it. cotton and velvet is my choice.

    There are Sign Painters and Sign Writers ~ ~ ~ I consider myself a "Dimensional Graphics Artist".



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    Last edited by John-1948; 08-15-2017 at 07:53 AM.


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