Metal Leafing

Metal Leaf or Gilding is the process of applying an extremely thin layer of metal to an object as an embellishment or finish. This method of decoration is an ancient one, with some Egyptian antiquities still being adorned by gold leaf. It reached its height in France during the reign of Lois XIV and has remained popular since.

There are two main methods of gilding. The first is oil gilding where an adhesive called ‘size’ is applied to a surface and then left to partially dry. At the correct moment the leaf is added and made to look beautiful. It is a relatively straightforward process that takes a craftsman to do well. Oil gilding is suitable to both interior and exterior finishes.

The other method is water gilding and is by far the best finish. Mainly reserved for wood and fine interior work because of the delicacy of the materials. It is a far more time consuming and elaborate process, but the finished result is outstanding. Several layers of ‘gesso’ is applied to the surface to produce a fine surface. Then a further eight coats of ‘bole’, which is a fine clay is applied and polished until it gleams. Then the surface is wetted and then finally the leaf is applied. Water gilding is usually reserved for exceptional pieces of furniture of artwork.

Contact us here at JWP and we can discuss your requirements further.
You can see many pictures of cabinets, furniture, and other interior items that we have finished here.