Gilding is a technique to enhance the objects of art, it is to apply a thickness of gold on another substance, metal, wood, marble, leather, etc.

Gold is a bright yellow metal that has always symbolized immortality, eternity and wealth. Resistant to corrosion and oxidation, it is considered the most valuable and purest metal.

There are several types of gilding such as gilding, mercury gilding, depletion gilding, galvanic gilding, chemical gilding, vacuum gilding, gilding on wood and gilding on metal. But we will see in particular what gilding is made of gold leaf.

Gilding with gold leaf

The use of gilding with gold leaf dates back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptian paintings demonstrate this by presenting goldsmiths beating gold to make leaves. At that time, gold symbolizes the color of the gods and pharaohs and was exploited in large quantities to make sarcophagi and also allowed them to use it to adorn art objects, especially painting, sculpture and cosmetics. These objects were embellished with gold by pounding. The techniques of fine gold gilding have been mastered over time and have evolved since the eighteenth century.

There are two main methods:

  • Gilding with water (with tempera)
  • Gilding with oil (with the mixtion)

These two techniques are still used today,

Gilding with water

Gilding with water or tempera is a technique of gold applied mainly on wood (also terracotta). It is also said that it is the traditional gilding and the oldest but which guarantees a better result. A method used only in value jobs (frames, icons ...) and requires several successive operations for the preparatory phases: 

  • Application of gesso: which constitutes the base gilding;
  • Application of the plate: which consists of preparing the support to better attract the leaf when it is moistened with water;
  • Application of the leaf: a technique for laying the leaves;
  • Finishing: the action of browning and varnishing are necessary.

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Gilding with the mixtion

Gilding with the leaf can also be realized with the mixtion. A method of applying gold used on all external supports (roofs, ironwork ...) using a mixing layer that allows the sheet to adhere to the support. It is faster than water but also requires several steps:

  • Preparation of the support
  • Application of a mixtion
  • Laying the gold leaf
  • varnishing

The application of the gold leaf allows you to have a unique style of decoration to your objects. It is easy to perform but only requires a minimum of time.

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