Gilding is where you place a covering of thin layer of paint or gold leaf onto the item that you are using. Other types of metal leaf that is being placed onto a item that you are using can also be known as gilding.
Gold and silver are the most common types of leaf that are used in this process. This kind of gilding has been used since ancient times especially when being used in the arts that are in the East and South Asia and also in many places in the Middle East.
Gilding materials was used to show off how wealthy the owner is when it was very expensive when it was mainly first produced. Even though now in modern times it has became less expensive due to the process of it being made is less time consuming due to the application techniques of it being made.
Imitation gold leaf reduces the cost of the gilding process and it is widely being used as a decoration piece is modern times at present.
The two main basic methods of the gilding process will include Mechanical and Chemical.
Mechanical gilding was the only type of gilding that was used back when it was in the ancient era. It begins with the gold leaf. It is made by hammering gold pieces into very thin paper thickness sheets between layers of parchment. The leaf that was used in the ancient era was very typically thicker than today’s version of gold leaf and it has consequently survived through the centuries very well.
There are different types of mechanical gilding which are used for different materials. The metal surface must be painstakingly prepared by cleaning, scrubbing, heating and soaking every bit of the leaf in a acidic apricot solution fluid. The bronze metal should be prepared with mercury in order to receive the gold leaf particles it is then heated. Iron and steel must be etched and heated just before it gets red hot; this is then when the gold leaf gets applied. After this process the metal surface must be burnished or polished with an agate stone.
Water gilding, which uses a layer of gesso and a layer of bole to make the gold leaf adhere, is traditionally used for wood surfaces. The leaf must be brushed with a gilders tip before any burnishing is done in this kind of gilding. A fourth type of mechanical gilding, oil gilding which uses an adhesive oil primer to gild the walls of a building. This is when none of the burnishing is necessary in the process.
There is a few different types of chemical gilding already being used for the process. Gold mainly goes into a chemical compound at some point in this process. Cold gilding is used on a silver surface. This consists of dipping the linen cloth into a liquid solution of gold into aqua regia burning the cloth and then it is rubbed placing the ashes onto the silver coat.
Wet gilding uses the solution of chloride, gold and also ether. This mixture is manipulated until the ether absorbs all of the gold out of the acid and when the ether can then be painted onto an iron or steel surface. Once the ether evaporates out of the solution only the gold particles are left. To finish this process it must be heated and then burnished.
Fire gilding is also called wash gilding. It begins with an amalgam of gold or a mixture of the gold with mercury. If the method is being used on a wrought metal surface a primer of pure mercury must be used. A plain metal surface must be prepared with a nitric acid solution.
After the amalgam is applied, it has to be heated so that the mercury evaporates and leaves just the gold behind. Overheating in this process will ruin the project. Then the gold must be scrubbed until smooth and coated with gilding wax, the wax must then be burned off. Finally the surface will be coated with a mixture of nitre or other some other salts with water or even weak ammonia. Fire gilding is traditionally used for buttons as it produces amazing results but it also presents a significant danger to the staff that is working on it because of the high amounts of mercury that is involved in the production of them.
Below are a few examples of some of the metallic leaf products we have available.