Ways & How

how to gold leaf furniture

how to gold leaf furniture

To make furniture look elegant and sophisticated, you should learn how to gold leaf furniture. This technique has been a part of ancient art. If we look at all the pieces of antique furniture, gold leafing is usually present especially if it came from rich families like the rulers of the land. This inspired present furniture makers who adopted the concept of gold leafing. For a little bit of an overview, gold leaf is very thin sheets of gold measuring approximately .1 micrometer thick. These sheets are usually made and sold in four-inch square sizes. You buy gold leaf per package.  From here, thin sheets of gold, or the gold leaf, are used to adorn and decorate various kinds of furniture. The most common pieces of furniture with gold leaf gilding are picture frames, headboards, chairs, and tables. The use of gold leaf can be traced back as far as the ancient Egyptian times. Possession of furniture with gold leafing symbolizes wealth and prosperity. It was a status symbol in those ancient times. However, it is not as thin as it is now. This is probably one of the reasons why stored pieces of artifacts with gold leafing still have quality, beauty, and durability.

Other precious metals can also be used, but the value of gold is by far the highest of all.

  1. To prevent any damage and permanent stains in your work area, especially your flooring, cover the place using a drop cloth. Also move any other pieces of furniture in the way.

  2. Before you start, the first thing to do is make sure that the surface of the furniture is very clean. Check the kind of material your furniture is made of and use the appropriate cleaner.

  3. Using 220 grit sandpaper, remove any impurities or any scratches. Very lightly sand it so as not to damage the furniture. Once you are done, clean the furniture with a tack cloth preferably wax embedded.

  4. When the furniture is all free from dirt, scratches, and sandpaper residue, it’s time to prepare for the gold leaf gilding. Decide where you are going to place the gold leaf. Once decided, use low tack tape used by painters to make a guide on where you are going to work. This will also protect the other areas during the gilding procedure.

  5. Select the primer that you intend to use. There are three types of primer. The first is the yellow primer. Using this type will give you a brassy finish. The second kind is the color gray which gives a cooler effect as an end result. Lastly, the red color gives off a warmer tone. Choose the best for your desired outcome.

  6. Use a burnish sealer primer and lightly brush the surface area. Make sure that you use the kind of primer specially for gilding purposes. Doing so will hide other imperfections in the furniture, but most importantly, this will aid in making the surface smooth so that it will subsequently make it  easier to attach the gold leaf. Dry the primer.

  7. Once the primer is already dry, use a sponge and apply an even layer of oil-based, 3-hour adhesive. As the name suggests, this will dry in three hours. What you would want is a sticky surface. Tap the surface with your knuckles, and it should be sticky to touch, but it feels and looks settled in its place already.

  8. When the adhesive is ready, lift a sheet of gold from the whole pack. Very slowly and gently stick it into the adhesive. Use very little pressure in doing this.

  9. Rub the protective sheet of the gold leaf with a guilder’s brush. For a more systematic approach, rub each portion of the gold leaf, then press it to adhere properly until the whole sheet is properly secured. Once done, peel off the protective sheet.

  10. Polish the gold leaf with the gilder’s brush. Check also for any part that is missing a part or is torn away. You can just cut a small portion and cover the missing part.  Leave the furniture as-is and let it cure for one week.

  11. For the last procedure, use a protective acrylic top coat and brush it all over the surface. Use the kind that is made specifically for gilding. This will keep the gilded furniture from any chipping. Let the coat dry.

  12. Lastly, remove the tape. You now have furniture with gold leaf.

Learning how to gold leaf furniture will enhance and give sophistication to your pieces of furniture. It is moderately easy to do with careful application and the right knowledge. Choose a simple furniture piece and try gilding it!


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