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Gold and Metal Leaf Information
Gold leaf is 3³⁄₈ x 3³⁄₈inches square (85 x 85mm) and is sold in units called packs containing 500 leaves. A pack is divided into 20 books with each book containing 25 leaves.
Each pack of 500 leaves covers a surface area of 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. If for example, the surface is very ornate with deep crevices, it will certainly take more leaf than the same size area of a flat surface.
Regular Gold - This term refers to the average thickness which a manufacturer has deemed as the standard for gold leaf. This 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 its higher quality having fewer pinholes or other irregularities.
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 - 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 gilder's tip, a flat natural hair brush.
Patent - 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 or where conditions would make loose leaf unmanageable. Patent gold leaf is not suitable for water gilding and is best suited for flat surfaces.
Patent gold leaf is sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity and needs to be stored properly. Store patent leaf in a damp environment of about 80% humidity wrapped in plastic wrap.
Patent leaf may become loose on the tissue paper if stored in a dry warm environment. To correct this problem, the book of patent leaf needs to be stored in a humid environment under pressure to "remount" the leaf to the paper. If the leaf was stored in a very hot and humid environment, the leaf may adhere too tightly to the paper. To correct this problem, store the patent leaf in a refrigerator or a dry cool place.
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 leaves are also 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 lighter colors.
Silver Leaf - Made from genuine silver containing no gold or other alloys. Silver leaf will tarnish like all objects made from pure silver.
Palladium Leaf - Palladium is a silver color metal. Because it is very resistant to corrosives in the air and to acids (except nitric acid), it is often substituted for silver or white gold, for exterior gilding.
Ribbon Gold Leaf
Gold Leaf packaged in roll form is also referred to as Ribbon Leaf. Leaves of loose gold leaf are placed onto a continuous length of lightweight paper with slight overlaps. Ribbon gold is not patent leaf. Unlike patent leaf which is pressed onto tissue paper, ribbon leaf is adhered to the paper by the use of wax during the rolling process.
Ribbon gold leaf is intended for use with oil or a synthetic size on flat surfaces. The paper backing prevents the leaf from reaching into ornate crevices or recesses.
Standard Manetti gold master rolls are 104mm (4⅟₈") in width and approximately 67 feet long. The rolls are made by placing 4⅟₈ inch square leaves onto a continuous length of paper with a 2mm overlap.
Ribbon gold leaf is sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity and needs to be stored properly. The leaf may become loose on the paper if stored in a dry, warm environment. If the leaf was stored in a very hot and humid environment, the leaf may adhere too tightly to the paper.
Store ribbon leaf at normal room temperature and humidity. To prevent the moisture content of the rolled paper from fluctuating during extended length storage, wrap the roll in plastic wrap or use a sealable plastic bag.
Gold Leaf for
Gilded building details made from wood, stone, fiberglass and metal take on the dynamic qualities of gold - its luster and color. The correct selection of gold leaf, its gold content and thickness, will ensure a long lasting gilded ornament.
Gold Content: Gold leaf is manufactured in a wide range of colors and karats. Leaf made from 100% gold is 24 karat leaf. To produce a variety of colors, copper and silver is mixed with gold. When copper is added, the leaf becomes warmer and richer in tone. When silver is added, the leaf becomes paler in tone. The addition of these other metals lowers the karat value of gold leaf. Gold leaf is manufactured in a range from 9kt "White" to 24kt "Fine Gold."
Gold is completely resistant to corrosion. The addition of silver and copper lowers the resistance of gold leaf to corrosion. However, the copper or silver in 23kt or 23.75kt leaf is so low that it will maintain its integrity outdoors for 30 years or more. A dome, building detail, or outdoor statue will require a 23kt to 23.75kt leaf that ranges from 96% to 98.5% in purity. Karats less than 23 are recommended for indoor use and many colors and karats are available.
Leaf Thickness and Weight: Leaf thickness is best described as grams per 1,000 leaves. This measurement is used to compare one variety with another. The appropriate weight of leaf for an outdoor surface is 18 to 23 grams per 1,000 leaves. The heavier the leaf, the longer it will repel the abrasive effects of snow, rain, wind, dust and sand particles.
When selecting gold leaf for an exterior architectural project, look first for the gold content and gram weight. A 23kt to 23.75kt gold leaf weighing 18 to 23 grams/1000 leaves properly applied will shine for decades on your next architectural gilding project.
Metal Leaf Information
The metal leaf group includes Composition Gold, Aluminum, Copper and Variegated leaf. All metal leaf is intended for indoor use.
Composition Gold Leaf, also referred to as Dutch Metal and Schlagmetal, is imitation gold leaf made from brass, a combination of copper and zinc. Composition Gold Leaf is available in four colors:
#1- 90% Copper & 10% Zinc
Having the highest copper content of all composition leaf, #1 is the deepest red in color.
#2- 88% Copper & 12% Zinc
The high copper content of #2 gives it a deep red gold tone.
#2½- 85% Copper & 15% Zinc
Average gold color imitating 22kt genuine gold leaf, #2½ is the most popular color.
#3- 82% Copper & 18% Zinc
Lighter in color than the above colors, #3 is bright and "lemony" in color.
Aluminum Leaf, also called imitation silver, is made from pure aluminum and is silver in color.
Copper Leaf is made from pure copper.
Variegated Leaf is metal leaf which has been treated to create colorful patterns in the leaf. The random patterns vary from pack to pack.
Red Variegated Leaf is made from Copper Leaf and red, orange, yellow and slight blue tones are achieved. The predominant color is red and the colors can be intense and of iridescent quality.
Blue & Green Variegated Leaf are produced from color #2 composition metal leaf and are similar in color. The Blue Variegated Leaves are selected for a higher prominence of deep blue tones. The Green Variegated Leaves are chosen for their overall subdued and mellow shades.
Black Variegated Leaf is made from composition metal leaf color #2½ and is the most difficult color to achieve and varies greatly from pack to pack. The added colors are black and purple with some blue and green highlights.
The copper alloy in metal leaf will tarnish, therefore all metal leaf must be sealed to prevent tarnishing, except Aluminum. Aluminum leaf may get a bit darker in color without a sealer. It is best to wear gloves when handling metal leaf to avoid leaving finger prints and other residues that may cause the leaf to discolor under the sealer. Cotton Gilding Gloves are listed on page 24.
Metal leaf is sold in units call packs containing 500, 5½ x 5½", leaves and
covers 105 sq. ft. without waste or overlap. A pack is further divided into 20 books with each book containing 25 leaves separated by thin tissue paper. The percentage of waste is based on the complexity of the object and the gilder's expertise in laying leaf. If the surface is very ornate with deep crevices it will take more leaf than the same size area of a flat surface.
Schlagmetal and Schlagcopper are packaged in boxes of 10,000 leaves which are subdivided into 20 units. Each unit, wrapped in paper, contains 500 leaves with tissue paper between every 100 leaves.
Schlagaluminum is packaged in boxes of 5,000 leaves which are subdivided into 10 units. Each unit, wrapped in paper, contains 500 leaves with tissue paper between every 100 leaves.
Metal Leaf Rolls Rolls of metal leaf are manufactured from 6¼ inch square leaves placed on a continuous length of specially treated light weight paper. The leaves slightly overlap each other with the overlap marks occurring at 6 inch intervals on all roll sizes. Ribbon leaf or rolls are best suited for use on flat surfaces and can be applied by hand or with a gilding wheel.
OXIDIZED SILVER LEAF
Japanese Oxidized Silver Leaf is 5" x 5" and is made from chemically treated pure silver leaf. The treatment produces an oxide of various colors and results in a very thin and delicate leaf. Oxidized Silver Leaf must be sealed to maintain its color and is not recommended for exterior use. All sealants will alter the color and a test is required to determine the final appearance. The leaf is packaged in loose form with the interleave paper cut to the same size as the silver leaf. The booklets of 100 leaves are not individually bound, and 5 books are included in each pack.
COLORED SILVER LEAF
Japanese Colored Silver Leaf is 109 x 109mm (4.5/16 x 4.5/16") and is made from pure silver leaf. Each leaf is hand dipped in a dye containing clear plastics. Colored silver leaf has been traditionally used for Japanese painting, textiles, and wall coverings. This unusual leaf is available in a wide spectrum of jewel like colors Colored Silver Leaf is packaged loose with the interleaved paper cut to the same size as the leaf, and is sold in units of 100 and 500 leaves. Colored Silver Leaf may vary in color slightly within each book and will fade if not sealed. A high quality UV sealer is recommended which will aid color retention and prevent oxidation along edges. Alcohol based sealants, such as shellac, will dissolve the plastic coating and should not be used. The clear plastic coating may react to the gilding size. Test all materials before gilding the project to ensure compatibility.