The gold rush is on in the studio

My exploration with gold that I admitted to in my last post has actually been going on for a few months…

In November I experiemented with chine collé, where thin papers are pasted down as part of the printmaking process. Read this post to learn more.  For the actual cards, I used green and cream kitakata papers, Rives BFK as the card support, and Handschy gold ink.

New Years cards for my collectors and supporters.
Gold ink highlights ginkgo leaves and pine cones.

I was pleasantly surprised at the result. The ink, while not shiny, had a pleasing metallic patina. My fellow printmaker James Hubbard told me that you need to seal the paper somehow for the patina to be visible. So perhaps the acrylic medium did this.

I wondered though — what would happen if it were really gold leaf…

In the accompanying DVD to Magical Secrets about Chine Collé by Brian Shure there is a mesmerizing sequence where we see gold leaf being applied to a piece of contemporary artwork.

Supplies include red oxide acrylic paint, 12-hour sizing,
and gold patent leaf.

I was intrigued enough to want to try some gold leafing for myself. The entire sequence is a bit complicated, so do consult Shure’s book/dvd for complete instructions.

How to apply gold leaf:
1. Seal the area where you want the gold to adhere first with acrylic medium.
2. Paint the area with red oxide acrylic paint. Mine was pretty thin. Apparently you use a pewter blue for silver.
3) Paint the sizing on the red oxide area. (Wear a respirator and have good ventilation.)
4) Let the sizing cure for at least 12 hours. Shure’s book recommends waiting until it isn’t tacky. For me this was 48 hours!
5) Carefully apply the gold patent leaf to the sized areas. Rub the backing paper gently.
6) Use a soft cloth or brush to burnish the gold leaf areas.

A nautilus becomes gilded.

To test this myself, I used part of a print that had some alignment issues. I applied the gold leaf process to the areas that appear darkest in this picture. The results were mixed. In places you could see where I had applied the red oxide, but had missed with the sizing (which is clear.) But apparently you shouldn’t apply the sizing directly to the paper. Clearly I needed to pay more attention and use a light with a magnifying glass.

It was a great deal of work! I’m now wondering if perhaps one could use the printing process to apply the first three steps… The rubbing of the gold leaf is fantastic, however. Makes you feel like a monk illuminating a manuscript. A very rich experience indeed.


5 Replies to “The gold rush is on in the studio”

    1. I'm not good with long complicated processes that can be achieved by other means and gold leaf is very expensive with which to experiment! I bought some gold, silver and copper Lama Li paper for block printing at Dolphin Papers of Franklin. It is part of their existing stock. Pygmalions of Bloomington could also special order it I would think. I have yet to work on it with linocuts but I see no reason why it would not look just like applied gold leaf! I suppose this is the lazy man's way but I'm for anything that cuts corners but looks convincingly "rich"!

    2. You can put golf leaf onto your prints with Ailene's foiling glue…from Michaels..years ago I did a huge series of work…I thinned the glue down half and half with water, put it into a needle nose applicator and drew on my prints..the glue is white and as soon as it dries clear you can carefully lay the gold leaf onto the work, then brush off with a soft brush…the leaf sticks wherever the glue is…a much easier process.
      Some of this work is over 20 years old and looks perfect so I know this does not degrade the paper…I was using BFK at the time for the prints.

    3. Thank you so much for this tip Barbara! I will get some foiling glue ASAP and try it out. I have a print I've been fighting with, and think that some gold foil is the answer. But I was dreading using a paintbrush. (This is why I'm not a painter.) I will give your solution a try 🙂

  1. Thanks James! I will look for that paper — I hadn't heard of it before. What do you use to adhere the metallic paper? And can you print layers of ink over it, or is it best as the top layer? The question for gold continues!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *