REGULAR GOLD - This term refers to the average thickness which a manufacturer has deemed as the standard for gold leaf. The standard may vary from one manufacturer to another. One gold beater’s regular may be thinner than the regular leaf of another brand.
DOUBLE GOLD - Double gold does not mean that the leaf is two times thicker than regular leaf. Double leaf may be only 10% to 20% thicker than regular gold leaf. Double means that it is heavier than regular.
GLASS GOLD - This term applies to gold leaf which is selected for it’s higher quality, having fewer pinholes or other irregularities.
SURFACE GOLD - Surface gold leaf may have a few irregularities and is often used where double gilding is required or the leaf will be distressed or toned.
LOOSE LEAF - A book of loose gold leaf is assembled by placing each piece of gold leaf between pieces of thin rouged paper. The gilder can then remove one leaf at a time without disturbing the remaining leaves. It is removed from the book with a gilders tip, a flat natural hair brush.
PATENT LEAF - Patent gold leaf, also referred to as transfer leaf, is gold leaf mounted to special tissue paper by a pressure process. A book of patent gold leaf is assembled by placing each unit of gold leaf and tissue between pieces of thin rouged paper. The gilder can then remove one leaf at a time without disturbing the remaining leaves. Patent gold leaf is removed from the book without the aid of a gilder’s tip. The leaf will stay on the tissue until it is pressed onto the prepared surface and the tissue backing is removed. This form of gold leaf is necessary for outdoor work, overhead work, or where conditions would make loose leaf unmanageable. Patent gold leaf is not suitable for water gilding and is best suited for flat surfaces.
SILVER LEAF - Silver leaf is made from genuine silver containing no gold or other alloys. Silver leaf will tarnish like all objects made from pure silver.
METAL LEAF - Composition Gold Leaf, also referred to as Dutch Metal and Schlagmetal, is imitation gold leaf and is made from brass, a combination of copper and zinc. Each metal leaf measures 5-1/2” x 5-1/2” and is sold in units called BOOKS containing 25 leaves, or in PACKS containing 500 leaves divided into 20 books. Each book covers 5.25 sq. ft. and each pack covers 105 sq. ft. without waste or overlap.Composition Gold Leaf is available in four colors ranging from #1-3.
PALLADIUM LEAF - Palladium leaf is a silver colored metal. Because it is very resistant to corrosives in the air and to acids, it is often substituted for silver or white gold for exterior gilding.
COPPER LEAF - is made from pure copper.
ALUMINUM LEAF - is made from pure aluminum. It is also called imitation silver.
VARIGATED LEAF - is metal leaf which has been treated to create a colorful pattern in the leaf. The random patterns vary from pack to pack.
KARATS AND ALLOYS - Gold is alloyed with silver, copper and other metals to achieve a variety of colors and shades. A higher gold content and/or greater amount of copper will result in deeper tones of leaf. The higher karat of leaves are more durable due to the higher gold content. In the lower karats of leaf, such as 18kt, 16kt, and 12kt, gold is alloyed with silver or other metals to achieve higher colors. Due to the silver content in the lower karats of leaf, they may not always be suitable for exterior gilding.
BOLE - is the clay surface applied to the gessoed surface of an object being water-gilded. It is the surface that receives the gold leaf and dictates the reflective quality of the gold finish. Clay is finer than gesso and when burnished with a stone its surface becomes more dense and thereby more reflective.
WATER GILDING - is the application of gold leaf to a wood substructure that has been prepared with layers of gesso and clay. The adhesive in this technique is traditionally rabbit skin glue. This technique offers the most brilliance possible in a gold finish but it also has the ability to be matte. It is the most manipulable gold finish available, a burnished water-gilt surface is more brilliant than a water-gilt surface that is not burnished. Clay surfaces can also be prepared before the gold is laid to produce a very matte finish.
OIL GILDING - is the application of gold or metal leaf to a surface employing an adhesive. This resin traditionally is an oil based varnish known as size. Water based substitutes are also available. Most surfaces to be oil gilt need to be sealed to ensure an evenly distributed layer of adhesive.
GENUINE GOLD LEAF SIZE - Each gold leaf measures 3-3/8” x 3-3/8” (85mm x 85mm) and is sold in units called BOOKS containing 25 leaves, or in PACKS containing 500 leaves divided into 20 books. Each book covers 1.98 sq. ft. and each pack covers 39.50 sq. ft. without waste or overlap. The gilder can determine the percentage of waste based on the complexity of the object and his or her own expertise in laying leaf.