I’ve been using gold leaf in my jewelry for years. It is fragile, so
it’s best to limit its use to protected, interior surfaces and
lacquer it. But iwth careful treatment it lasts a long time. Here;s
the method I’ve arrived at after years of experimentation:
To apply, first treat the surface with a gold leaf adhesive, called
size, which comes is several formulations depending on the amount of
drying time you need. I find the 3-hour drying time most useful.
(This means the surface is ready to gild 3 hours after sizing and
remains workable for 3 more hours.) The standard brand is Rolco.
Traditionally, people use brushes to apply the leaf and hard
burnishers to rub it into the size. I find this (a) unnecessarily
clumsy and (b) not well-suited to jewelry. I "ve found that those
hard-ish rubber “paint brushes”, sold in art supply stores, work
really well as both appicators and burnishers. They come in various
shapes and sizes which allows me to gold a variety of small surfaces.
They also come in 2 hardnesses – white and grey, I believe. I find
that the grey, which is the harder, works better. I just pick up a
piece of leaf on the tip of my selected rubber brush, lay it down,
rub a little with the same brush, and pick up another piece of leaf.
When I’ve covered the area to my satisfaction, I give the whole
thing a good all-over burnish with a blunt-nosed rubber brush and
that’s it. I wait at least a day to laquer, just to be sure the size
is really dry.
So there you are – easy. People seem to like to make big
mystification over how tricky and delicate gold leaf is. But truely,
it’s not a big deal. The main thing is to work with good quality leaf
that doesn’t turn to dust when you pick it up, as some cheezier
brands do. You can get all leaf supplies, good brands, mail order
from New York Central Art Supply. 800-950-6111. Hope this helps. Carla