I just love it when readers of my blog call or email me to help them create a dream they have in their head for their home. One reader (actually a husband and wife) emailed me a few months ago to see if I could help them gild (gold leaf) a powder coated railing they were having built and installed in their home. “No problem,” I told them in a follow-up email. “Are you sure you want it “gold leafed…real gold leafed?” I asked. “Yes!” was the answer.
They sent me a few photos – one of a sample of the type of wrought iron railing that would be installed in their entry and also an inspiration photo of what they would like it to look like.
When I called my gold leaf distributor in Staten Island NY, they gave me a price of $650 for what I needed to gild the motifs that my clients wanted. I knew it would be that costly…but it took my clients completely by surprise. But they still wanted to investigate the real thing for their project.
I suggested that we keep it in mind, but still think about some alternatives that were less expensive – like gilding waxes, metallic paints etc. So – I made some samples for them, including faux gold leaf – aka Dutch Metal Leaf. They loved that look (especially the color and the shine of it) but felt that possibly it might be a bit more fragile and prone to flaking if it got nicked by the vacuum cleaner or if one of their grandkids bumped into it by accident. I have never had this happen on any of my past gilding projects but if a client has a fear about something I listen and together we find another way.
The closest I could find to that color and shine that they were looking for were mostly solvent-based liquid leaf products. I purchased a few of them for making samples – Plaid makes a few colors and so does Martha Stewart. I mixed Martha’s Liquid Gilding in Gold, which has a warm cast…into Plaid’s Liquid Leaf in Classic Gold (about 4 Plaid to 1 Martha ratio) and that was the color that the clients were the most ecstatic about. (I wanted to use an even more durable product, so I went to a signmakers store and had them make up a larger batch of a professional product in this color for me).
The clients didn’t want any antiquing on top of this (which I usually do with leaf or gold metallic paint), so we got to work on painting the motifs that the clients wanted to highlight.
We wound up doing two coats of the paint for additional brilliance but you could probably get a nice coverage with one coat, if you are short on time (and $). This paint went on so smoothly – it was a dream to work with.
Cost-wise, this was a much less expensive way to go. If we had used any of the leaf products (whether real or faux), we would have had to prime each motif in a warm yellow paint, then apply the size (which the leaf adheres to), then we’d burnish for shine and, if using a faux leaf, we would have to topcoat to prevent tarnishing. That’s a lot of steps – and more costly to do. We wound up not top coating this product. The clients felt that if they saw any tarnish starting, they could do the upkeep with the paint that we left them.
Thanks again to Marty Wiesehahn, who helped me with this project. And a big “Thank You” to my clients for finding my blog and reaching out to me!