Imitation gold leaf or
genuine gold leaf?
You CAN use
genuine gold leaf in place of imitation gold leaf, but the
various lacquers and glazes we apply, in the final
result, make it difficult to tell which is which, see the
are advantages to using imitation leaf. As well as
being much cheaper than real gold leaf, it is a little
thicker and so is easier to handle, and this makes
a BIG difference if you are considering gilding for the
first time. You can actually handle this leaf with your
fingers, something you could never do with genuine gold
The types of finishes we are going to apply over the leaf
will change the appearance of the leaf, to the point where it
is difficult to tell genuine gold leaf from imitation.
Below are two examples of gilded wood both with a crackle
glaze and two separate antique glazes applied to them. One was
gilded with 23 carat gold leaf, the other with imitation leaf.
As you can see it is difficult to tell them apart.
When gilding with genuine gold leaf to be used outside it is
customary to apply a coat of varnish to the leaf, we do the
same when using imitation leaf, to prevent the leaf from
You can use most any clear or tinted varnish but if using
the crackle glaze, which is water based, it is important to use
an oil or spirit based varnish/lacquer, as a water based
acrylic varnish would affect the water based crackle glaze.
I use blonde de waxed shellac, which is mixed 1 part shellac
to 4 parts methylated spirits or de-natured alcohol. Just put
the mixture into a glass jar with a sealable top and allow to
stand for 36 hours, stirring occasionally, when you can see
that all the shellac has dissolved, it is ready to use.
The alcohol will evaporate, so when not in use keep the jar
The next page
tells you all about imitation gold
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