Has anyone applied a gold leaf design to a polished stone, and
if so, can you describe the procedure and the materials required? I
have a polished stone, I have a design on a piece of drawing paper,
and I have a book of gold leaf sheets. Where do I go from here?
I asked a similar question, oh, about 6-9 months ago, to which I
think you were one of those who responded with suggestions. I had
projects wherein, like you, I wanted to more or less inlay a pattern
in gold on stone. For what it’s worth, here’s where those
suggestions took me. The responses generally fell into three groups:
amalgam, electroforming and gold leaf.
Even though using an amalgam would have been one of the easier
solutions, I ruled it out simply because I didn’t want to complicate
my life with the mercury … an occupational hazard of having done
hazmat for so long.
Electroforming works with a couple caveats. First, the stone can’t
be reactive with the plating solution. Second, because of the
plating is so thin, you have to “shelter” it within a depression.
For the same reason, sheltering is also necessary with gold leaf
though how much depends on how many layers of gold leaf you plan on
using. On the topic of creating the depressions, again, the
responses fell into three groups: etching, handtools and
I obtained a small amount of lab-grade HF and tried etching. It
works and I liked the fact that it tended to undercut – great for
"anchoring." However, you’re going to be at it for a while … a
long while. In the end, I decided it was too slow and not worth the
effort and precautions. Since I mentioned the “H” word, let me say
that I’ve held a Hazmat Emergency Response Team certification and
have a full set of Level B gear including a full-face respirator with
HEPA/OVAG (Organic Vapor / Acid Gas) filters. You want to talk about
scaring the neighbors! By the way, as per suggestions, I tried
the mild(er) HF etching solution available in hobby stores. Okay,
now we’re talking a really, Really, REALLY long time!
Next, I tried an electric engraver and a rotary with diamond bits.
The engraver worked but it’s still relatively slow going and results
varied dramatically by stone type/hardness. It also left a pretty
rough finish – okay for amalgam and multiple-layer gold leaf but
poor for electroforming. The Foredom was much faster. As the
threads have all indicated, you have to go slow, keep it cooled in a
reservoir of water, etc… If the design has any fine lines though,
you have to have a pretty steady hand. I, not having a steady hand
(or steady enough), found it difficult to maintain a consistent
Finally, per suggestions, I contacted a local headstone maker willing
to blast a few pieces for me. Simple process: transfer design to
rubberized masking sheet, apply to stone, X-Acto the design out, give
to them. I forget what media they used, but the results were great
– about 0.5mm depth, clean edges, smooth channels – definitely my
preference for similar projects in the future.
From here, you just apply the adhesive to a small section of the
design and fill it in with gold leaf. Don’t use your fingers. I
applied multiple layers, building up the thickness – no adhesive
between layers. When it reached near the surface of the stone I used
a wooden cuticle pusher to burnish the layers together. A quick stop
at the buffing wheel and it was done. I also found that it was
significantly easier to work with gold foil like that used for
keumboo (sp?) than actual gold leaf.