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Gold standard – Michael Dresdner

Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Gold standard

There will be five posts this week, one each week day, all about gilding and gold leaf.

Q: I’d like to know about different kinds of gold size and the methods of application over hand carved furniture. I now use waterbased gold size and apply it by hand with cotton.
A: Oil based size is the most common, in part because it is the slowest. The slower the size cures, the more working time you have. However, other than working times, all sizes, whether oil, water or solvent based, will work, merely at different speeds. The fastest is shellac, but they all work the same way; they are applied evenly and allowed to set up to the point that they are just barely tacky, usually to the point when a knuckle dragged across the surface will squeak. The key to choosing is finding the one that works best for your application style. Personally, I like the slow drying oils, which are simply long oil varnishes. They take a long time to set up, but then give you more than an hour of working time, which can be a real plus on an intricate surface. Once the gold is on, let the size dry completely before burnishing it. The longer the size cures after the gold is on, the easier it will be to burnish the gold.