nothing like a bit of gilding to set off a classic boat.
leaf is normally bought in books.
It is possible to buy it on rolls but for
boat work the books are
A book normally contains 25 leaves, each leaf an individual sheet
approximately 3 3/8inch/85mm square.
There are several ways in which the leaf is packaged.
For any outdoor work or where conditions
would make loose leaf
easiest to use. Patent or Transfer leaf
Patent or Transfer leaf has the gold mounted on to special tissue paper
This allows one leaf at a time to be handled without the need for a
The leaf will stay attached to the backing tissue until it is pressed
prepared surface, (see the video below).
Gold leaf comes in a wide range of colors
And is alloyed with copper and silver to produce a wide variety of
However the addition of these other metals lowers the karat value of
leaf and thus it’s resistance to corrosion.
For any outdoor applications particularly for boats you will require a
that ranges from 96% to 98.5% in purity, 23kt to 23.75kt.
Anything less than 23kt are only recommended for indoor use.
The leaf also comes in a variety of thicknesses.
Leaf thickness is usually measures in grams per 1,000 leaves.
For any outdoor application is 18 to 23 grams per 1,000 leaves is
The heavier leaf will last longer and survive the abrasive effects of
rain, spray, salt and sand.
The amount you are going to need is dependent on the complexity of the
lettering or cove and how careful you are while laying the leaf.
The patent gold leaf books are sensitive to changes in temperature and
Too dry and the leaf can separate from the backing paper.
Too hot and it can stick too tightly to the paper.
Store them in a cool damp environment wrapped in a plastic bag.
Size or Gilding
is the special
adhesive used to glue the leaf to a surface.
For boat and exterior work a
traditional, clear, natural,
oil based size is recommended.
Size can be bought in spray
cans but for small areas such
as lettering and cove lines it is better to paint it on.
Once the size is applied it
must be allowed to reach
it’s proper tack before applying the gold.
This will depend on the
thickness, temperature and
humidity, however once it has reached the ‘tack’ it will remain
usable for several hours.
Water based size is only
suitable for interior
Buy Boat Books on-line
without saying that the finished result will depend on the condition of
The smoother, firmer and
cleaner the surface the better
You can use masking tape or
that bright colored
electrical tape when sizing, however it is quite easy to control the
a small brush.
Before sizing, paint the area
to be gilded with yellow
Then if any of the gold does
flake or become scratched it
won’t look so noticeable.
Boat Books on-line
important that the size has reached its proper 'tack' time before you
The time to apply your leaf is
when the size is no longer
‘wet’ but has become 'tacky', yet before it dries
Apply size carefully and
evenly keeping it on the areas
to be gilded only, sizing and gilding a few feet at a time.
When the size is ready, place
the sheet, gold side down
and then rub the backing paper with your thumb or finger.
thumb or finger
through your hair before hand will help the leaf part from the backing,
apparently it is something to do with the static.
Finally, burnish to remove any
excess leaf and polish the
Burnishing is best done with a
soft squirrel haired brush
but you can use a soft cotton rag or lambs wool.
The video below shows how
simple the gilding process actually is.