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Old gold – Michael Dresdner

Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Old gold

Q: What is the best protecting coat over gilded projects and how do we get an antique look?
A: There are two types of gold leaf; real gold, which is pure gold hammered to thin sheets, and imitation leaf, sometimes called Dutch metal. Generally speaking, real gold is not antiqued, nor top coated. If you are going to create antique gold finish, which needs to be top coated, use imitation leaf, which is much cheaper and, unlike real gold, needs to be top coated anyway.
Once the leaf is on and dry, you can antique it in several ways. The two most common, often done together, are to ‘wear’ the leaf by eroding it in high spots with Scotchbrite® or steel wool until bits of the size or ground color show through, and glazing the surface after leafing.
Glazing means wiping on a colored stain and wiping it back off, leaving darker or contrasting color in the low areas and recesses. For that you can use commercially prepared furniture glazing liquid, or wiping stain, or gel stain, or you can mix your own from pigment concentrates reduced with solvent and binder. To make oil based glaze, start with Japan colors or artist’s oil color tubes and thin with mineral spirits, adding a tiny amount of boiled linseed oil to give you more working time. For waterbased, simply use artist’s acrylic colors or craft paints.
Once the glaze is dry, seal it with whatever you like; lacquer, waterbased clear topcoat, or oil based polyurethane or varnish.