To add value to woodworking projects, consider the ancient art of gilding. Be aware when purchasing supplies for gilding. True gold leaf is available through limited suppliers, with brass making up the common “gold leaf” sold in hobby stores. Basswood or poplar are excellent choices for gilding, since they are straight-grained and inexpensive. Applying gold leaf over red and gold woods, either stained or naturally occurring, is a continued tradition dating back to the Italian Renaissance. Traditional water gilding gives a brighter sheen, while modern oil gilding results in a matte finish. Allow proper time for the gild to cure, and protect it with a thin clear coat.
- Base metal or imitation gold leaf is basically brass, while fake silver leaf is actually aluminum.
- Copper leaf and variegated leaf are other base metal variants that are not true gold leaf.
- Even when toned to more closely match natural gold, base metals do eventually discolor and darken to a brassy brown with age.
“imitation leaf, no matter how we view it, is so far from being real gold or even looking like it.”