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Published by: anon-516746 on Oct 28, 2007
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Gilding Leather
Leather Secrets
Gilding Leather Gilding is the application of thin sheets of gold or other metal alloy such as copper or silver, toa surface. The sheets are hand or machine beaten until they are extremely malleable andthinner than the thickness of tissue paper. Gilding was often used as decoration on bookcovers or picture frames in the past, and gives a look of richness to objects. When applied tofinely detailed, carved leather the effect can be quite striking.SizingYouâ
™ll also need an adhesive or glue to stick the leaves to the leather. This glue is calledsize. A commercial-based size works perfectly. In addition, cheesecloth or other lint-free cloth,a stiff artistâ
™s brush to apply the leaf and some Q-tips to remove excess gold leaf areneeded, as are a pair of square-ended rather than pointed tweezers for moving andpositioning the bits of gold leaf.Dye The Leather FirstAn antique finish like Leather Glow can be applied at the end. It gives some luster andcontrast, and takes away from the shine of the gold somewhat. Avoid solvent-based finishersand choose one specifically designed for gilding. A leather top-finish like Super Sheen can beapplied to thecarved leather. If this is your first attempt at gilding, you might want to practiceon a piece of scrap leather first, just to get the feel of it.Go Slowly!Apply the under-finish only to those areas that will receive the gilding. Go slowly and carefullyhere. If you make a mistake, wait until the under-finish is tacky, and then gently scrape it off with the point of an x-acto knife. Wait until the under-finish is completely dry before applyingthe size.Getting TackyGlues vary in the length of time they require to achieve a tacky state and remain workable,and this time is generally indicated on the tube or bottle. When gilding a small carving, youprobably need glue that is tacky within an hour and remains workable for another twentyminutes or so. Use a small brush to apply the glue only to those areas that received theunder-finish. Then check for tackiness, bearing in mind that the glue might reach that stateearlier than indicated on the bottle, depending upon environmental variables such as heat andhumidity.Go for the GildNow itâ
™s time to apply the leaf. Wash your hands to remove any oils that can affectadherence, and carefully lift the sheet with the tweezers and your hands. Do this in a draft-freeroom, as the leaf is thinner than tissue-paper. If you need to trim the sheet, use a dull butter knife or your finger nail, placing the leaf on a pad of buckskin. Then take the sheet and apply itover the area that has been sized, patting it down with a wad of cheesecloth, gently at first,then gradually increasing the pressure, pressing the leaf into the carving.Use an artistâ
™s brush to tamp the leaf into the detail of the carving. A stiff brush, Â
to Â
inch wide works well. Pay attention to the edges, making sure they are well tamped down for anice finish. You can brush the excess bits of leaf away, saving them in a jar for touch-upslater. Brush along the edges until all the pieces that didnâ
™t adhere are swept away.The Final TouchesYou can now rub the gold leaf with a soft cloth to bring out the burnish and smooth anywrinkles. Once the glue is completely dry, you can rub the gilding a little more vigorously toachieve an antique appearance. This will rub away some of the gold leaf, revealing the sizingand antique under-finish. Donâ
™t overdo it though, and rub only on the high spots of the
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