Saturday, November 26, 2011

Using Gold (Metal) Leaf

Detail of my distressed metal leaf frame

I'm starting a new portrait commission for a client/friend of mine Jeff Dinardo. I wanted to do something that looks like an Old World artifact, so that included creating some sort of gold leafed frame and panel to paint on. It will be a portrait reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance painting, so the old look is certainly in order. If you have never used foil leaf or any kind of antiquing, I recommend giving it a try. It's not as hard as you might think once you get the hang of it. I show this process in depth in my painting video "Conquer Your Acrylic Demons, so you can check it out there as well.

These supplies are readily available at craft and art supply stores as well as online. If you can't find these brands I am sure other brands will work equally well. It took me a couple tries to start getting the results I wanted.

Liquitex acrylic color (I chose a Red Oxide and Taupe mixed together, but about any contrasting color will work)
Old World Art- Gold Leafing Kit # 831
Jo Sonja's Decor Crackle

Here's a sequence of how I applied the gold foil (it's just gold colored metal as real carat gold would be ridiculously expensive).

First, I sanded and prepared the panel. It was a little bit rough to start with so I worked it smoother. This seems sort of counter productive since things only got rougher from there. Step two, was to mix up a brick red acrylic color to coat the frame with.This coat of  serves two two purposes.

First it seals off the wood a little bit and second it gives a contrasting color that peeks through gaps in the metal leafing. Step three was to use the decor crackle to leave a layer that would crack. I put it on under the leafing since I wanted the gold to show the distressing. You brush it on and leave it as it immediately starts to crack and working it just messes with the crackle pattern. You can put it on thick or thin. The thicker the layer, the wider and deeper the crackle pattern.

Once the crackle is completely dry, you can move onto the next step which is to apply the metal leaf. First, apply the gold leaf adhesive with a brush. It goes on like very fluid rubber cement. Be sure to clean the brush thoroughly as the adhesive will gum up a brush when dry. The next step is to apply the metal leaf. The foil is whisper thin, so you need to take care in application. I used a soft 2" brush to aid the application process. I did not want an even application, so I purposely laid it down with gaps and cracks in order to give the appearance of a distressed  and aged surface. If there are spots that are not covered enough, I go back and add a little foil. It took me about 6-7 sheets of the foil to cover the whole frame edge.

The frame is currently too shiny for my taste, so next, I will glaze it down with a brownish acrylic glaze and rub it back, leaving "grime in the cracks and accentuating the crackle texture.. I also plan on sanding areas and adding more distressing. I'll show this in the next post along with the drawing which has been approved by the collector.

Part 1 of this project
Part 2 of this project
Part 3 of this project
Part 4 of this project (finish)


jeffdinardo said...

looks amazing so far! Its a lot of work to just get to this stage!

Greg Newbold said...

I'm in a few few hours so far including sketching and prep. The actual leafing process only takes an hour or two. I'll post more as i go along.

Will Terry said...

Jeff - You're a lucky guy! Greg is dangerous with the gold a good way.

jeffdinardo said...

You are right. I would have commissioned you to do it if I wanted us to look like a pair of awesome monsters though!

Can't wait to see more posted!

Gold Craft Studio said...

Really like your post it is very informative. looking forward for your new post.

p said...

I'm sorry I'm really you put the crackle glaze on first, then the size and finally the metal leaf?! I thought you put the crackle glaze on top of the metal leaf???

Greg Newbold said...

Hi p,
In this case, I wanted the crackle to be really evident, so I put the metal leaf down after the crackle glaze. The metal leaf if extremely thin and conforms to whatever surface it adheres to. This makes it really easy to emphasize the texture underneath by glazing over the top and letting the paint settle down into the cracks and wiping the excess off the top surface. Sorry for any confusion. Hope that helps.