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Metal Leaf

METAL LEAFING: Throughout history, the art and craft of leafing has been used to create and embellish some of humanity’s most revered works of art. Egyptian relics, Far Eastern Temples, illuminated manuscripts and fine art have been leafed and embellished by artisans. And it’s easy to see why. The process of leafing can be employed on wood, metal, ivory, leather, paper, glass, porcelain, and fabrics. Leaf can be worked in delicate miniature as well as on architectural structures such as domes and vaults. For any art or application, there is a metal leafing technique.

THE TECHNIQUE:
[1] Prepare the surface: This can include sanding, shaping and carving. Porous surfaces need an application of a sealer or undercoat
[2] Apply adhesive to the surface: Because metal leaf is so thin, it is important to take care that the adhesive application is smooth with no brush strokes. When brush strokes are present it will show in the finished leaf surface.
[3] Let adhesive dry until tacky
[4] Apply Metal Leaf
[5] Apply a Sealer: Undercoatings/sealer have been applied for both form and function. Because leafing requires a non-porous surface, undercoating’s often act as a sealant. It also provides an additional color enhancement or tint to the applied leaf. Red Oxide was used as the traditional undercoating by master gilders because it brought out the brilliance of the gold leaf, and since leaf is thin, it was often burnished and sanded to let the undercoating show through. This technique is often referred to as Old World gilding.