What is gilding?
Gilding is the practice of applying very thin layers of gold leaf to a surface. More difficult than it looks due to the fragility of the leaves. Gothic art is characterised by gilded backgrounds that are very beautiful. Traditional rabbit skin glue gesso mixed with bole (a red pigment) is the best method for applying the leaf but Japan Gold Size is easier and more common.
Gilders tools consist of a leather cushion which is the ‘palette’, a special knife and a gilders ‘tip’ which is a type of brush which is run through the hair to pick up a little hair oil which is enough to help it pick up the leaf and the wet size holds the leaf which is pressed down with cotton wool. Overhanging leaf is trimmed after drying. Finally the gold is polished with a special burnisher.
Gold leaf can be purchased from specialist gold leaf suppliers.