Self Portrait in coloured pencil

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Gold Leaf

Gold leaf diversion 
I have finished the wolf den in pen and ink but I have not had time to scan it. I have been finishing a piece of furniture that I built, and tools and other things are still sitting on top of the scanner. 
The furniture was built to hold a Nichiren Buddhist mandala called a Gohonzon. 
I started with an IKEA children's storage system because it was exactly the right size. 
The inner cupboard is made of African mahogany. I don't know what that is but it is a beautiful colour. 
The inner cupboard needed a new back, and for a long time I have dreamed of having the back coated in gold leaf. So I ordered the gold leaf and acrylic size from L. Cornelissen & Son because their website was easier to understand than others I looked at. I chose the extra thick gold leaf in hopes that it would be less fragile. After all this was my first attempt at proper gold leafing. 
I bought a big board of Ampersand Claybord because I thought it would make a great surface to gold leaf. It was. 
I thought I should let you know what I learned in case you are thinking of trying gold leaf yourself. 
I bought transfer gold leaf. The leaf is held on a wax paper, and each leaf is between the pages of a booklet. It is easy to handle and doesn't need any special tools. 
The acrylic size was in a bottle and the instructions said to leave it 15 minutes then it would stay tacky indefinitely. 
My advice, having learned from my mistakes, is: don't apply the size beyond the area that you want gold leafed, and apply the size as smoothly as possible. 
The gold leaf only sticks to the sized area. It doesn't stick to the area that already has gold on it. So you don't need to be too precious about it, and you can touch in any gaps in the gold by applying the left over bits on the wax paper. 
Because of the stickiness that was definitely persistent I had to varnish the gold leaf surface. This brings me to the last crucial lesson. The wax on the paper leaves a trace of itself on the gold and water based acrylic varnish doesn't like wax. I don't know what you can use to clean off the wax without taking off any gold. I just persevered with coats of varnish. One area ended up a bit lumpy but I don't think it will show when the mandala is hanging in place. 
I was left with one entire leaf of gold which I photographed (above). I intend to incorporate it into a miniature in the Nihonga style. I have put it away safely until I am inspired by a subject. 

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