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Wanting to learn old school gold leaf...


New Member
Wanting to start tinkering with doing gold leaf for a few personal projects. Have watched several youtube videos from some of the members here and others, but time to roll up the sleeves and get into it. Pretty much need it all to get started, and would like to get some fake gold leaf to experiment as well as real gold leaf for later on. Looking for a list of "must-have" tools, best sizing, etc. If someone could point me in the right direction I would be very thankful.


Active Member
Agree, get the book it's great.
What type of projects are you going to try?
I started in school with "Dutch Gold", fake gold leaf and it a good way to practice.
It does handle a little differently than real gold, as I recall it's heavy.


New Member
Primarily looking to start playing with gilding V-carve style letters and carved decorative elements for signs, and then work towards gilding on glass.


Active Member
I never really got the knack of glass gilding, but have done lots of surface gilding.
A tricky part is how to keep gold from sticking where you don't want it. This can be done using a vinyl mask.
But that too can present issues. A method I use is to cut a tiny outline that gets pulled right after the size applied.
That prevents the leaf from tearing when you remove the mask.
One thing I like to use for gilding carved or flat signs that don't have a mask is egg size. I may have got it from the book.
An egg white mixed into a cup of water and liberally brushed onto the surface of the sign. I usually do two "coats".
After it dries you apply the gold size. After gilding you gently wash it off with water and cotton balls. I usually wait a day for the leaf to cure a bit.
One of the worst things is losing the tack on your size by waiting too long. You'll learn about quick and slow size and slow is always the best option if you have the time.
You will also learn that different brands of size behave differently, some dry faster than others.
Lots of gilders like to wait as long as possible to apply the gold, the drier the size the shinier the gold. But that can lead to holidays (spots where it doesn't stick)
And gold does not look good touched up. If it's a sign job I now prefer to gild a little early and not have the gold be mirror bright.
It's more legible that way. For decorative elements I'll sometime go for the mirror finish.
Have fun.


New Member
Good advice above. Don't be scared though, it's much easier than it seems. I know there are advanced techniques to get a shinier finish or different textures, but I personally like it less than mirror bright.

Get some DUX Quick Size, some gold leaf and go at it. You don't HAVE to have all the fancy tools. I soft natural lettering (or artist brush) is all I use to place the gold, then once the size sets for a bit, I burnish with cotton balls.

I tried the fake gold and did not enjoy it. The real stuff is WAY easier to work with and produces better results.

I also work with a vinyl mask and have never had any tear issues. I don't see how it would be possible, the gold leaf is soooo thin and just stays put on the size.


New Member
Great advice guys, thank you for sharing. I'm currently looking at buying the gilders starter kit from Letterhead supplies - which also includes the book mentioned above. Should that be sufficient to get started, or is it overkill? Really don't want to overspend, but I know buying good stuff/tools usually pays dividends down the road...


New Member
Well, when I started down that path, I found Francis Lansetti ( signsofgold.com ) and printed and read every article that he wrote for signs of the times mag... and was lucky enough to meet him at the Atlantic city sign show. I stood and watched and asked questions for several hours...

Tools. 1. Guilders knife. 2. I made my own guilders pad (a piece of Dibond with a thin pad of foam wrapped in tee shirt cloth) . I have a giulders brush, and use it about 1/2 the time. Burnish brushes - a set of makeup brushes from target (ELF is the brand). Kaolin powder. And I bought a tool box that is giulders supplies only!!! No paint, and it is kept in my office, and not in the shop. I have both fast and slow size.

The last time I bought gold, I got it from sepp leaf. I was getting a cheap gold from somewhere else, but I don't remember off hand. I did get some off eBay, and it was utter garbage... not really a gold, more of a foil....so unless you know what your getting, go with a known gold leaf supplier.