Gilding Objects
Create beautiful objects with the wonders of genuine gold leaf

Rating 3 -moderate
For use on: walls, ceilings, furniture, objects, fine arts

Gilding Features

7 Essential Steps for Perfect Gilding
Gold Leaf Techniques
Silver Leafing Techniques
Exterior Gilding
Gilding Ceilings
Gilding Terms
Gilding Books
Antiquing Methods
The Gilded Planet
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Gilding Kits

Includes all the tools and materials to apply imitation gold leaf. Set contains one 4 oz. bottle of Gilding Size, natural hair brush, cotton and mixing sticks, wet/dry paper and book of leaf. Water-based. Each book contains 25 leaves.
Each leaf is 5.5" x 5.5" square. Approx coverage is 5.25 sq. ft.


Sepp Metal Composition Leaf  books gold pack of 20

Metal Composition Leaf Packs
20 Books
Gold - Aluminum - Copper

Made from various metallic alloys that simulate gold or silver. Items covered with imitation leaf will tarnish unless they are varnished or sealed. Sheets of imitation leaf are approximately 5 in. x 5 in. 25 sheets per book, 20 books to a pack. Copper leaf is genuine copper.



artSparx Book Special

Gilding: Easy Techniques & Elegant Projects With Metal Leaf

Gilding: Easy Techniques & Elegant Projects With Metal Leaf

Decorating with gold accents can add sophistication, dimension, and importance, not just to the object it embellishes, but to an entire room.


Gilding products at artSparx and!

Get the lowest rates available for large orders of leafing products!

Get full packs!
That's 20 books per pack - or 500 leaves.

Gold Leaf Basics

Leaf Size Details
Leaf Coverage
Alloys and Karats
Types of Leaf


Also available in Rolls.
Get your project done professionally and quickly.


Genuine Leaf
  Genuine Gold Leaf
  Silver Leaf
  Palladium Leaf
Metal Leaf
  Composition Gold Leaf
  Aluminum Leaf
  Copper Leaf
  Variegated Leaf
Sizes and Adhesives
  Size and Adhesives

Visit the Gilded  Planet
Minimum purchase required

Special order?
How much leaf will you need?


General gilding questions?
Ask artSparx!



7 Steps to gilding

1. Prepare work area
2. Prime surface
3. Apply 'bole' color
4. Apply adhesive 'size'
5. Apply leaf
6. Seal and protect leaf
7. Apply antique glaze


Gilding terms

Bole - Traditionally, bole is a term that identifies a pigmented clay. This clay acts as the base, or cushion, for the subsequent layer of gold leaf. Classically terre-cotta in color, the clay can be built up quickly, then polished to a very smooth surface. 

Contemporary gilding does not use clay, but simulates the effect by adding a colored paint that replicates the clay effect. Traditionally the bole color is a deep terre cotte tone, such as Benjamin Moore color # 2090-30. 

Size - General term used to identify the adhesive that attaches the leaf to a surface. 

There are different types of size, depending on the form of gilding. 

Water gilding uses a gelatin size.
Oil gilding (most common ) uses a oil-based size.
Acrylic gilding uses a water based size.

Holiday - A gilders term that refers to an area were the leaf did not initially adhere.

Tack - Refers to the state of the adhesive size. Proper tack for gilding is the point when the size is not longer wet, but not fully dry, hence it is 'tacky' or just slightly sticky.

Skewings - The bits of leaf that are left over after a surface has been completely gilded. Skewings can be saved for other projects, making excellent fillers for patching holidays.



Masking tip: 
Always test an area to be taped before beginning the masking job. Wallpaper is particularly susceptible to tearing. Lacquer and varnish surfaces on furniture may come off easily with the tape and the item could be severely damaged.

More techniques
Color washing
Glazing techniques 
Rag rolling 
Wood graining 
Striee glazing
Dragging techniques 
Pouncing techniques
Style archives
Preparation of surfaces
Know your materials


Quick-dry synthetic gold sizing is a clear gilders size designed for fast leaf work. Dries in one to three hours, can be used as a varnish, medium, or anywhere a durable, weather resistant finish is required. Thins with mineral spirits, and comes in an 8 ounce
re-sealable can.



"Techniques vary, art stays the same" 

- Claude Monet  1840-1926


Antiquing Gold Leaf

Antique Silver Leaf

Antiquing glaze creates the soft glow of slightly tarnished silver.

The Antique Corner

The Antique Corner

Adding the finishing touches to your furniture, decorative object or gilt surface requires just the right know-how. artSparx delivers the expertise to give your project a sophisticated finish with an extra glow.

Exclusively at artSparx!



Setting up a production line can be a great method for gilding numerous objects at once, limiting you 'down' time while your size comes to tack.


Your antique glaze treatment should be harmonious within its setting.



How to Gold Leaf with Genuine Gold
& Imitation, Composition Gold leaf
- Oil size method -

Add gilded details to furniture, cabinetry, doors and windows.
By accenting profiles or molding edges you can transform the
average into a masterpiece. Transform everyday objects into heirlooms. The process known as Gilding simply means the application of
gold, silver and copper leaf to a surface that has been properly prepared with an adhesive known as 'gilder's size'. 


Step 1:  Cover working surfaces and floor areas with drop cloths or newspaper.

Step 2:  Remove dust and dirt with a tack cloth and prime surface as needed. In this instance we are adding gold leaf accents to glazed furniture panels. Refer to the artSparx basic preparation resource for additional tips and techniques for properly preparing a surface for painting and glazing. 

Isolate the area to be gilt with low tack painters tape.

Step 3: Over the painted surface, or previously glazed furniture door panel, apply a base color,  known as the 'bole' color. This goes on before the application of the gold leaf. Traditionally the bole color is a deep terre cotte tone, such as Benjamin Moore color # 2090-30. 

Applying the 'bole' color onto the area being gilt.

What is bole?

visit the 'Gilded Sconces' tutorial

This base color is also referred to as the 'Bole' color. Traditionally, bole was made from clay. Today paint is typically substituted.
One can experiment with different colors and your choice will affect the overall appearance of the finished product. For example, the traditional terra-cotta color adds warmth to both gold and silver leaf. A black 'bole' color creates a hard, cold look - often appropriate for Art Deco pieces, and the like. A yellow 'bole' color evens out the overall appearance, and diminishes any cracks or 'holidays' with in the gilded surface.


Special Feature - About gilding products

Aluminum Leaf

Purchase Aluminum and Genuine Silver Leaf.
Also available in rolls!

Dutch Gold or
Composition Leaf

Purchase Imitation and Genuine Gold Leaf.
Also available in rolls!

Aluminum Leaf imitates the illusion of genuine Silver, at a fraction of the cost. Each individual sheet is bigger and easier to handle then its genuine counter part.

The same applies for 'Dutch Gold', or 'Composition Leaf'. But due to the large brass content, this imitation gold must have a sealer applied to prevent tarnishing, unlike genuine gold leaf.



Step 4: Apply your 'size'. Size refers to the adhesive used to adhere the leaf to a surface. There are different kinds of size adhesive dependant on the finished look you desire. For most common gilding practices a 3 hour, 'quick drying' size is all you will need. It is an oil based product and can be cleaned with mineral spirits. Apply carefully and evenly, working the size to an even film as much as possible. When competed, clean your brush with mineral spirits.

Quick-dry synthetic gold sizing



A fully 'sized' panel detail. Keep an eye out for 'pooling'. When applying 'size' to an object that is ornate or has decorative features that are raised, pay attention not to 'pool' the size in the crevasses. Work it out evenly so the size dries evenly over the entire piece.

Remove tape before you apply the gold leaf. In this fashion, you can help insure that no leaf sticks to the tape. Also, if the tape is removed after you complete the gilding process, then there is a risk that the gold leaf will tear from the surface, being still attached to the tape upon removal.

Do not apply the leaf until your adhesive 'size' is at the proper 'Tack'.

Step 5: Testing your tack.
This is an important phase, and determining the proper tack will result in the professional finish your are after. As your 'size' dries it naturally goes from a wet to a dry state. The proper time to apply your leaf is when the 'size' is not wet but 'tacky', just before it dries completely. 3 hour 'quick drying' size comes to 'tack' in approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, reaching full dryness at around 3 hours (hence it's name '3 hour quick drying size').

Use the back of your knuckles to test for the proper 'tack'. If the hairs on your fingers slightly tug then your tack is ready. Alternatively, you can very lightly drag your knuckles over the surface. Don't apply any pressure. If you hear a 'squeaking' sound, then you are ready to apply your leaf. If it is clearly quite sticky, wait a while longer and test again. Don't worry, with some practice, you will learn the subtleties of determining the proper 'tack' to begin gilding.

A sized furniture panel ready for gilding

About humidity: Your adhesive size can dry at varying times due to atmospheric conditions such as heat and humidity. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the drying process. If you leaf to soon, the leaf will get sticky and sag, and the size may never get a chance to dry out through the leaf. If you wait to long, the size will dry up and your leaf will not properly adhere to the surface

Placing a book of leaf in your hand, carefully fold back the protective paper to expose the gold leaf. Lay the leaf onto the sized area and 'roll' out the leaf. Hold firmly and carefully.  Attach leaf to surface.

Move methodically over the surface, applying leaves of gold one at a time.
After the leaf is laid on, rub thoroughly over paper to insure adhesion. Avoid touching the leaf with your fingers.

Gently remove the paper, leaving the leaf on your surface.

Using a soft gilder's brush carefully remove excess leaf, brushing in the opposite direction that the leaf was applied. In this fashion you are brushing over any overlapping leaf and will insure that leaf doesn't 'pull away' from the seams.

Removing excess leaf from the the edge of the 'sized' area.
Generally, the leaf will remain loose and flakey an areas that have not been sized, allowing for easy removal of excess leaf.

Repairing 'Holidays'

Step 7: Holidays. Fixing them. 
A 'holiday' is a gilders term that refers to an area were the leaf did not initially adhere. Simply use some left over leaf and apply to area.

Holidays are caused by 2 things. First, in the application process, the leaf just did not stick to the 'tacky' surface. Simply apply fresh leaf and rub down.
Secondly, when you applied the 'size' in step 4, you missed an area leaving a bald spot, and there is no adhesive for the leaf to stick to. After you have completed leafing the entire surface, including patching in all holidays, re-apply more 'size' to the missing spots with a small artists brush, allow to come to 'tack' as before, then apply leaf to the newly sized area.

Step 8: Burnishing and finishing off

Using fresh tissue paper, rub the surface gently and evenly. This insures all the leaf is properly rubbed down, with no air holes. 

Using a soft brush to remove excess 'skewings'.

Using a soft gilders brush, such as a squirrel mop brush, fox hair mop or rabbit hair mop, brush the surface removing any loose leaf (known as skewings). Cotton balls may also be used. Do not use regular painter's brushes, such as bristle, or synthetic fibers, because they will scratch the leaf and dull the luster of the finish.

For more Antiquing techniques visit The Antique Corner

Seal and protect your leaf

Genuine Gold Leaf: It is not necessary to seal Genuine Gold Leaf. However, you may wish to add extended durability for 'high traffic areas' like furniture, objects and doors.

Composition (imitation) Gold Leaf: It is required that you seal Imitation Gold Leaf to prevent tarnishing. Composition Gold is primarily composed of Brass and will oxidize over time. Therefore it is necessary to apply a barrier coat of sealer to prevent oxidation and tarnishing.

Step 9: Sealing with Varnish

Oil-Based Varnish: Protect the leaf with a coat of oil based varnish, Satin or Semi-gloss sheen. This seals the leaf, protecting it from moisture and air. It also acts as a barrier coat between the leafed surface and the antiquing glaze that soon follows. Clean your brush with the appropriate thinner.

Water-Based Varnish: You can also use a water based varnish to seal gold leaf and Composition leaf. However, water-based varnish tend to 'bead' on the slick surface of metal leaf. Therefore a high quality water based varnish is recommended. Varathane, Diamond Finish, made by Flecto (Satin or Semi-Gloss sheen), is an acceptable water based varnish that responds well to metal gilt surfaces.

This is an important step. If you were to apply an antique glaze over untreated leaf, the leaf would become stained and dull, losing the highly reflective quality of genuine gilded surfaces.

Step 10: Antiquing and aging your leafed surface.

You may use either artist oil based paint in tubes or artists acrylic paint in tubes to create an antique glaze solution. For more on antiquing visit the artSparx Color Palette.

On a palette, mix some acrylic Raw Umber with Raw Seine. You can experiment with the proportions. 2 parts Raw Seine to 1 part Raw Umber will work fine. Dilute with water.

Apply glaze solution loosely over surface,
working in a straight even fashion.

Use a dry brush to 'drag' the glaze in a straight, back and forth motion, smoothing out as you go. In case the glaze 'beads', allow to set momentarily then smooth out as before.

Using a dry rag, buff up 'high' points, allowing the recesses to remain darker, mimicking the processes of time.

Step 11: Clean up. Salvage as much loose leaf (skewings) as possible, then vacuum all excess and clean working area.

Step 12: Dispose of used material appropriately. 

Interior Style design features

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