Metal Leaf Glossary

Alcohol - A solvent for shellac. Always use "denatured" alcohol. Used to clean the surface before work, thin shellac, clean brushes used for shellac and clean dried latex paints.

Bole - Different color clays used as a base for leafing. Red clay brings out the brilliance of leaf, blue clay is used for silver leaf, and yellow simulated gold in areas where you don't want to waste gold. In today's usage it also describes a layer of color applied before the metal leaf.

Brushes - Synthetic brushes, foam brushes, natural hair. Synthetics can be used for almost any surface preparation except lacquers. Foam (or poly) brushes are good for latex and synthetic paints and covering large flat areas fast. Natural hair brushes are good for oil based paints.

Types of natural hair:

  • Oxhair - used with varnishes because of long soft hair, leaves no brush marks
  • Bristle - stiff natural hair brush to use for splattering and pouncing or where stiff bristles are needed
  • Sable - soft artist brush used for exacting detail and where decoration of fluid nature is needed. Very expensive - must be well maintained
  • Badger - used for blending because of the long soft hair. Can be used for paint application where single stroke technique is used.

Fault - Small areas that the metal leaf did not adhere to.

Faulting - To place metal leaf pieces (or skewing) on a missed area.

Gold Size - Adhesive used when leafing. Explanation in 'Steps in Laying Metal Leaf'.

Gilder's Cushion - a leather covered soft pad about 5 x 10 inches with parchment wind guard at one end used to cut gold and silver leaf with a gilder's knife.

Gilder's Knife - A flat spatula like knife used to lift and cut real metal leaf

Gilder's Tip - A flat soft haired brush about 3" wide (it can be cut to smaller sizes) used to lift real metal leaf (glass gold or silver leaf) and transfer to the project surface. Very expensive and requires much practice to use properly.

Leaf - The metal used in leafing. Comes in six types:

  • Real Gold
  • Composition (or Dutch)
  • Real Silver
  • Aluminum (which has a silver color but doesn't tarnish)
  • Copper
  • Variegated (Composition metal leaf which has been heated and chemically treated to cause various irregular color changes)

Skewing - Excess metal leaf left over after cleaning the newly laid leaf. Collect these small pieces in a box or jar and use to "fault" the piece or future pieces.

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