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Use of Gold Leaf


#1

I recently found most of a package of "XX Deep 23k Gold Leaf"
manufactured by “Hastings & Co, Philadelphia” I would like to know
what the was intended ‘use’ was, they seem to thin for any jewelry
application. (The package has been between the pages of an early
edition of Webster’s Gems for at least 25 years.)

Mark Chapman


#2

Mark-- From you description, it sounds like you have gold leaf that
is used for gilding surfaces such as picture frames, sculptures, etc.
This material is actually karat gold rolled extremely thin for such
applications, so thin you must handle it with a delicate brush. Gold
leaf also has many culinary applications, such as frosting
decorations on cakes, and the golden flakes you have in Goldschlager
beer.

You may be interested to know the traditional way this form of gold
was made was an ancient process known as gold beating. The craftsman
first rolled a ribbon on high karat gold to 1/1000 inch thick, and
then cut 1 inch square pieces. In the first beating called the
cutch, these were placed between 150 skins made of ox intestine–
each piece of gold went in the center of each skin. The entire
assembly was wrapped in parchment, placed on a stable block of marble
or granite and then the craftsmen proceeded to wail away with a big
fifteen pound hammer until the gold is 4 inches square. In the second
step called the shoder, the gold was divided into 4 pieces and placed
between 1500 skins and then beaten again until each piece is 5 inches
square. A third step called the briming, again dividing into four and
placing between 1500 skins, finishes the process. The finished
product is 1/ 250,000 in thick, so thin you hold it up to the light
and see thru it. Really illustrates the malleability of gold!

Jim
Jim Sweaney
www.mardonjewelers.com


#3

framing, statuary, ecclesiastical painting and decorating( perhaps
the largest consumer of gold leaf is the ecclesiastical painting and
decorating trade), and in fine arts applications other than frames,
mixed media and woodwork trim/finish on mouldings to name a few
major uses of gold leaf…rer


#4

I recently found most of a package of "XX Deep 23k Gold Leaf"
manufactured by “Hastings & Co, Philadelphia” I would like to know
what the was intended ‘use’ was, they seem to thin for any jewelry
application. (The package has been between the pages of an early
edition of Webster’s Gems for at least 25 years.)

I have several books of this, inherited from my grandfather who was
a bookbinder. They used this leaf for rolling decorative patterns
into the edges of leather volumes and for stamping names and titles.
In his beautifully crafted kit there are several roulettes for doing
this, all art deco style. So there is at least one use for the gold
leaf and I think it was also used for gold leaf on picture frames
and furniture. I have folded sheets together and fused it onto fine
silver, keum-boo style and also fired it under transparent enamels.
You have to be very careful in placing it, it sticks to everything.

Donna in VA


#5

Mark,

I recently found most of a package of "XX Deep 23k Gold Leaf"
manufactured by "Hastings & Co, Philadelphia" I would like to know
what the was intended 'use' was, they seem to thin for any jewelry
application. (The package has been between the pages of an early
edition of Webster's Gems for at least 25 years.) 

As others have already pointed out, this type of leaf is most
commonly used in gilding things, such as gold gilded lettering in
calligraphy, bookbinding, or covering whole sculptures and temple
domes and the like in asia, etc etc. In those applications, sometimes
the leaf is just stuck down to adhere by itself via a rough surface,
some burnishing, static electricity, etc. But usually, some form of
gentle adhesive (sizing) is also used for permanence. Leaf such as
you have is not backed with any adhesive. Just plain gold leaf.
Usually picked up and handled with things like very gentle brushes,
using static electricity alone to pick up the leaf, which is then
gently applied to a prepared surface, then after the sizing has set
some, it can be burnished down a little more if needed. One poster
mentioned the use of leaf in hot stamping gold images, lettering,
etc, on leather or other surfaces such as in book binding, etc. The
hot stamping leaf is usually supplied on a film of some sort, like a
plastic layer, with the leaf also having a heat activated adhesive.
Usually supplied in coils of such strip, and the hot stamping
equipment transfers the gold to the desired surface. That sort of
material is NOT what you’ve got. Your’s is traditional sheet form
gold leaf.

While the use of this thin leaf in jewelry work is limited (too thin
for keum-bo work, usually), it does have uses. It can be fired into
enamels nicely, and if treated in the usual means (adhesive sizings)
can also be put on metal. One artist I know who does this very
effectively is David Huang. His precious little copper ornamental
vessels are often lined with gold or silver, and he prefers to do
this with gold or silver leaf, applied in it’s traditional way,
rather than by electroplating. the result seems to be a richer color,
and a distinctive surface luster that differs from electroplating.
Since the vessels are not designed for functional use (containing
liquids, etc) the leaf surface can be considered permanent. Take a
look at his work to see what I mean.

http://www.davidhuang.org

Do be aware that gold applied to a surface this way is somewhat less
durable than an electroplate or true fused application like Keum-bo
would be, since there is still that adhesive layer in there. So
abrasion or heat could damage the gold surface. But it’s still a
wonderful look, and can be applied with less equipment than
electroplating or a fused on layer of some sort, and it can be
applied to things other than metal, including gems, paper, wood, etc
etc.

cheers
Peter Rowe


#6

Many years ago, I was very interested in calligraphy, and I learned
to gild initials. You build up the letter with gesso (traditionally,
the gesso was colored red because the color shows through the gold
slightly and makes it look richer) then burnish on the gold leaf.
You have to hold your breath while transfering the gold with a tiny
brush for fear of blowing it away. Not sure I remember right, but I
think you breath on the dry gesso to make the gold stick. All very
arcane, ancient-- and beautiful.Hand caligraphy has almost
disappeared because of computers, but you can still see the
occasional exhibit. Go, if you get a chance-- you’ll be blown away.

Noel


#7

I can actually answer this one! I was a sign painter for several
years and used gold leaf. I would “paint” the lettering with gold
sizing, then lay the gold leaf over and smooth it with a gold leaf
brush. The gold would adhere to the sizing and would then look as if
I had lettered in solid gold; lawyers especially liked this effect.

Bev Ludlow
Renaissance Jewelry
http://www.wirewrapjeweler.com
http://www.bhlwebdesign.com


#8

Several years ago I made a scale model of the Ark of the Covenant,
and I covered the inside and outside of the wooden box with gold
leaf. You’re right-- it does stick to everything.

That was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. I now have new
respect for anybody who works with gold leaf.

Janet Kofoed
http://users.rcn.com/kkofoed