A while back, in one of my art store binges at NY Central Art Supply, I was browsing the gilding section and noticed an interesting box of metal leaf. It was a beautiful and weird mix of multicolored, thin, wrinkled flakes that, when I asked the store assistant, work like a mixture of flocking and leafing. You size your surface just as usual, then pour the flakes on and essentially brush (or if you’re like me, mash) them into the size and they form a mottled, unique design every time.
So the other night, I decided to do a quick painting so I could practice gilding with the leaf for the first time.
Best way to start is to take a dry cleaning pad to wipe down the surface. This removes all the oils from your skin from touching the painting. It also helps clean out any overly tacky areas. This way when you lay down your gold leaf, it’s more likely to only stick to the size. The oils from your skin can adhere gold leaf to a surface and then requires scraping away with a blade.
When you wipe, the sack can lose some of whatever is inside it (I honestly have no idea what sorcery makes this work so wonderfully) but if you try to do this after you size, you’ll likely get these tiny particles in your size. So always do this first!
I did a combination of straight lines and a spray pattern with the gold leaf size to test how it works with flat graphic work as well as my more organic textures that I love. I use a water based size because I am impatient and it makes for easy clean up. It goes down white and dries clear so you can easily see what you’re doing and when it’s set.
I mess up a bit here, where I was so eager to get to leafing I didn’t photograph what I did. So I recreated like I was sneaky. But! You basically thrown down the leaf like a kid sprinkling glitter on a homemade Valentine’s day card, then take a brush and combination sweep them and press them down onto the size. The colours all start to mottle together to make a really beautiful mixture. If you’re worried that one area gets too much of one colour, you can use the natural static of the brush bristles to lift over another colour into the area.
I could flip this guy around all day looking at the leaf catch the light. There might be more small studies coming in the future. In the meantime, I put this one up on the Store to see if anyone wants a creepy skull to watch over them while they sleep. It’s based on the same raccoon skull from my 3D stereogram class.