The art of silver and gold leafing dates back to the ancient Egyptians. This decorative art started when small pieces of silver and gold was pressed down into very thin sheets of silver and gold. These thin sheets of silver and gold were overlaid onto wooden objects, an art known as 'leafing'.
Silver and gold leafing can add decoration to woodworks and may also be useful in undertaking certain designs of antique replication. Today, leafing can be done on virtually any clean surface of wood, metal, leather, glass or plastic.
How to produce excellent silver and gold leafing
Gold leafing is generally a simple process; however, creating convincing surfaces do requires reasonable degree of mastery to get splendid results. The leaf is generally sold in books.
The materials required can be purchased from most art stores. The process begins with silver or gold size, a metal vanish sold in fast or slow dying types. Silver and gold leaf only adheres to surfaces where sizing is applied. Therefore, care should be taken when apply sizing to the desired surface of the material. If sizing should accidentally stick to the wrong areas of the material, mineral spirits should be used to wipe out the sizing. Once the sizing is complete, usually by achieving a tacky feel, the silver or gold leafing process begins.
For initial leafing attempts, it is wise to use less expensive metal compositions instead of pure silver or gold until the application procedure is perfected. It is important that the site where leafing is done, be free from blowing wind, circulating air, people walking around or drafts. This is because the silver or gold leaf is lightweight and any air movement can cause disturbance.
Depending on the sizing design, the sheet may require to be cut into small pieces before being laid on the desired surface. To cut small pieces, a pair of scissors or any other sharp object may be used while the sheets are still in the book. To save on wastage, the cutting should be a little larger than the area to be worked.
It is recommended that a gentle touch be used in applying the silver or gold leaf. The leaf should be placed over the sizing and then slowly released to fall on the sizing. If by any chance, some sports are missed, a little sizing can be added on the sport and small piece of leaf placed on it.
When the leaf and the size are completely dry, a flat brush can be used to work it back and forth to remove excess leaf that did not get glued to the sizing. When the leafing is completely done coating can be applied to the surface to add color to the leaf. Different colored primes can be used to produce various special effects.
Leafing can improve the class and touch of any art work, enriching and enhancing them with the appearance that is unique to only silver and gold.