For 'First Snow', shown on the left, a glass panel was chosen from my stock. I was particularly attracted by its unusual patterning, incorporating two sheets of gold leaf and a slightly bigger size of 8x12cm.
To seal and protect the gold leaf, as well as enhancing the design, oil based paint or enamel paint is applied to the entire glass panel, covering the gold. The colour of the paint only shows through where there are gaps in or around the gold.
I prefer to use either red or black paint as it gives lovely definition to the design and complements the gold. It is left to dry overnight and the finished picture will be revealed for the first time and can be framed. Once framed, an acid-free backing board covers the painted area of the picture and secured ready to display.
How it's done
Selecting an image to draw on any gilded panel is just as important for the overall effectiveness of the final piece of work and the two are married with careful consideration. To begin work on the gilded glass panel, it is placed on a black velour covered board. This prevents the glass panel from slipping and can be flipped over regularly to view the marks created through the glass as it progresses towards the final image. Once marks are made into the gold leaf, essentially removing it, it can be difficult to correct mistakes, although not entirely impossible.
Loose leaf is extremally difficult to handle and will simply disintegrate to the touch, therefore, gilders tools are required to successfully manipulate and apply loose gold leaf.
These are; a gilders cushion, a gilders knife and a fine flat brush called a tip. The gilders cushion is a specially designed soft pad covered in vellum or swede and has a draught flap at the back, usually made from a stiff parchment, reducing any unwanted breeze that can send the gold leaf flying! A specially shaped, razor sharp gilders knife is used cut loose leaf to the shape you require, or manipulate the gold on the cushion, and a gilders tip made from squirrel or badger hair is used to pick the leaf up using natural static.
Transfer leaf is still genuine gold leaf but can be more expensive than loose leaf, as the gold is pressed into a backing sheet of acid free tissue paper. However, the added tissue backing makes the individual leaf easy to handle, without the use of gilders tools, and therefore great for beginners to the gilding craft. An alternative to genuine gold leaf is Dutch metal leaf, gold in colour but made from brass and silver from aluminium. It’s relatively cheap and ideal for experimentation. Dutch metal leaf can also be handled without tools, as the individual sheets are much thicker and cover a larger surface area, with each sheet measuring 140mm (5½”) square.
21.8ct Moon Gold: (a mixture of gold, silver and palladium) An unusual soft grey with a hint of pink.
18ct Lemon Gold: A lighter yellow gold
7.2ct White Gold: Very similar in colour to Silver, but warmer, and has a softer quality.