There are many different types of metal leaf you can choose to gild with including Genuine Gold leaf, Imitation gold Leaf, Genuine Copper Leaf, Imitation Copper Leaf, Genuine Silver Leaf, Imitation Silver Leaf, Variegated Gold Leaf, and Colored Gold leaf.
Genuine Gold Leaf
Starting from 6k white gold up to 24k pure gold. Under 24k gold leaf contain other alloys, such as silver, copper, palladium, manganese, and nickel. The other metals that are added to the gold, not only give it a colour but also it add strength to the gold leaf so that it becomes easy to gild with.
Genuine gold leaf available from 6k white gold (gold and palladium mixed together) up to 24k Extra Thick Gold Leaf, green gold leaf has the addition of silver, and red gold leaf is a about 20% copper added to the gold.
The genuine gold leaf is for both indoor and outdoor gilding. However, for outdoor gilding, you must use 23k and above to avoid oxidisation.
Do I need loose or transfer (patent) leaf?
Genuine gold leafs are available in transfer and loose. The transfer leafs are best for outdoor gilding where wind and draft make it difficult to handle the loose leafs.
Transfer leaf is also best for dry gilding using Instacoll or Permacoll size. For water gilding, you should use loose gold leaf, they work better on a wet surface.
Loose Gold leaf
The gold leafs are placed in paper booklets, loosely inlaid in 25 compartments, one for each leaf. To cut the leaf pick it up with the gilder’s tip and place it onto the gilder’s cushion or drop it directly from the booklet onto the gilder’s cushion and use the gilder’s knife.
Patent (Transfer) gold leaf
The individual gold leaves are pressed onto a tissue paper. One uses patent gold, also called tempest gold, when gilding outdoors. The tissue paper is larger than the gold leaf, thus it may be more easily handled. It is also possible to cut the patent leaves into desired shapes/forms with sissors. The leafs are placed onto the prepared surface (Instacoll system), and carefully rubbed with Kölner soft tissue. The tissue paper may then be removed as the gold leaf will adhere to the surface.
Gold leaf size: the standard size of a gold leaf is 8x8cm, 25 leafs in a booklet.
Imitation Gold Leaf
Imitation gold leaf/metal leaf or composition/dutch leaf is to be used indoor only, available in four different categories:
- High quality gold leaf: Noris Imitation leaf (German), Nazionale (Italian) both are the industry best gold leaf for professional gilders. Colour 2 Antique Gold, and colour 2 1/2 Bright Gold: the gold leaf colour 2 is for achieving antique metallic finish. As for colour 2 1/2 is for achieving a new and bright metallic finish on modern furniture or artistic objects.
Noris gold leaf is for gilding furniture, walls, ceiling and decorative objects. The metallic look is second to none. When using professional quality gold leaf, the finished gilded work is superior to others.
- Colored gold leaf: rose blue, red, yellow, pink, purple, green, black, champaign gold, and champaign silver.
- Variegated gold leaf: available in 25 different patterns and colours, each variegated leaf is totally unique.
- Gold leaf in roll: great for gilding walls and large area, the roll width is 16cm by 50mt. Also available in antique and bright gold.
Available in booklets of 25 leafs (14x14cm) or packs of 10, 25, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 (16x16cm) leafs. All can be used on all surfaces with any gilding size. Recommended gilding adhesive for imitation gold are Permacoll Gilding Size and Mission or Aqua Size.
The leafs are placed loosely one on top of the other out of alignment of about 3 cm for easy pick up.
Protecting the metal leaf:
All gilded surfaces must be sealed with a varnish (Leaf Protect) to prevent oxidization, however, surfaces that are gilded with 24k need not to be varnished.
No doubt the genuine gold leaf would last years and years, never changes its colour even after 30 years. Whereas imitation gold leaf and gold leaf that is under 23k would change its colour over the years.