Gilding is the process of applying a thin layer of gold or other metal leaf to a surface, creating a decorative and elegant finish. Gilding can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, glass, and metal, and can be used to create a variety of effects.


Gilding has been used for thousands of years, with the earliest known examples dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece. In the medieval period, gilding was used to decorate churches and other religious buildings, and today it is still widely used for decorative and artistic purposes.

Materials Needed:

  • Gilding leaf (gold, silver, copper, etc.)
  • Gesso or size (a type of adhesive)
  • Brush
  • Water
  • Soft cloth or cotton swab

Gilding is the process of applying a thin layer of gold leaf or gold paint to a surface to create a decorative effect.

Here Are Some Step-By-Step Instructions For Gilding:

  1. Gather your materials: Before you begin, gather all of the materials you will need for gilding, such as gold leaf or gold paint, gesso (a primer for surfaces), glue or size (a adhesive substance), a brush, and a burnisher (a tool for smoothing and polishing the gold leaf).
  2. Prepare the surface: Clean and dry the surface that you will be gilding. Apply a thin layer of gesso to the surface to create a smooth and even surface for the gold leaf or paint to adhere to. Allow the gesso to dry completely.
  3. Apply the adhesive: Using a brush, apply a thin layer of glue or size to the surface where you will be applying the gold leaf or paint.
  4. Apply the gold leaf or paint: Carefully apply the gold leaf or paint to the surface, using the brush to smooth it out and remove any wrinkles or bubbles.
  5. Burnish the gold leaf: Using a burnisher, gently rub the surface of the gold leaf or paint to smooth it out and bring out the shine.
  6. Seal the gilded surface: Once you are satisfied with the appearance of your gilded surface, you can seal it with a coat of varnish or sealant to protect it from damage and ensure a long-lasting shine.
  7. Clean up: Clean up any excess gold leaf or paint that may have fallen onto other surfaces.
  8. Enjoy your finished piece: Once your gilding is complete, you can admire your newly gilded item. Whether it’s a picture frame, a piece of furniture or any other object, it will have a beautiful golden shine and added elegance.

It is important to work in a well-ventilated area when using gesso, glue or size, and also to take care when applying the gold leaf or paint to avoid wrinkles or bubbles. Gilding is a delicate technique and requires patience, but with practice, you will be able to achieve a professional-looking finish.

Gilding Tutorial

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This tutorial goes through laying down gold foil on canvas prints for a large solid area. vonnart did this outside using the basic gold leafing tools which he shows alongside the technique on how to lay it down properly! It’s really a fun way to add some pop to your pieces.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Use a gilder’s tip or a small brush to apply the gesso or size evenly.
  • Practice gilding on a small surface before attempting a larger project.
  • Use a soft cloth or cotton swab to burnish the gilding leaf for a smooth and shiny finish.
  • Use a sealant or varnish to protect the gilded surface from damage.

Project Examples:

  • A gilded picture frame with a shiny gold leaf finish.
  • A gilded mirror with a elegant silver leaf finish.
  • A gilded wooden box with a decorative copper leaf design.

How to Gild with Gold Leaf

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Gilding is a decorative technique which consists of applying a very thin sheet of gold or other metal leaf to a surface. I thought that because we were starting a new series on designs of a long-lost era – Flemish, Edwardian & Victorian – it would be a great time to share how to apply gold leaf to surfaces – namely urns & vases.

Gliding can be applied to most surfaces and it’s not difficult, just a bit fiddly and time consuming but the end results give any object a lush opulence. My thoughts are that because it was such a rich opulent time, then the container should reflect this time.

Things to gather:

– Container or surface to be dusted or highlighted with gold, silver, or bronze leaf

– Gold, silver, bronze leaf

– You will need gold leaf size

– this is a special almost tacky glue that has been developed specifically to aid the leaf adhering to the surface being gilded.

– Bristle brushes

The secret to success is to ensure that the surface being gilded is clean!

Water Gilding For Beginners

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From getting the gold leaf on the pad, cutting the gold, using the gilders tip, gilding water recipe, laying the gold leaf, patting down to burnishing.

Gliding water: 4 parts water, 1 part isopropanol alcohol, a pinch of 12-1 rabbit skin glue.

How to Gild Furniture with Gold Leaf

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DIY expert Amy Howard shares all about gilding with metallic leaf. From ancient masterpieces to boutique furniture, gilding adds a pop of glamour to any décor! Whatever your style, you don’t want to miss Amy’s tutorial all about Gilding and Metallic Accents!

Learn all about enhancing your pieces with shimmer and shine!

Kim Lazaroe

Hi, my name is Kim. I've always enjoyed making crafts for each holiday and season throughout the year. My fond memories are making crafts with my mom or helping my dad build something around the house. Now I get to create new crafting memories with my daughter and husband as well as share my knowledge and experience in crafting with the world. Hope you enjoy my site.

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