Thursday, 17 June 2010

Using Gold Leaf

Hi all,
I'm asking for information here because I have tried unsuccessfully to use gold leaf in my printmaking but it just sticks to the plate and not the paper. I followed Brenda Hartill's instructions in her book "Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printing" regarding the mixing of the glue paste and the following steps but to no avail. I suppose I should go on one of her courses but at the moment I can't see that happening for a while due to time and money constraints.

So If any of you use it successfully I'd really appreciate a step by step guide including what paste to use/make/buy and where to purchase if I can buy a suitable glue. Thanks


Tracy Turner said...

I would think that one of the adhesives from Shepherds Bookbinders may work, though I've never tried them. Have a look at

Whenever I've been in the store they've been very helpful, so a phone call may get you some expert advice.

Hope this helps.

Theresa Cheek said...

I have only used gold size.....I know of nothing else that works with leaf....especially if it is going through a press. Would love to see photos of the process!

Annie B said...

Hi Carol,

I'm familiar only with the traditional Japanese woodblock way of doing this. Rather than trying to print the leaf directly from a plate, the Japanese method would be to print the glue from a relief plate, then to apply the gold powder or leaf by hand onto the still-wet glue.

The Japanese use a thinned-down animal hide glue called nikawa. Not sure where to get it, but I think it's also used in bookbinding and is used for sizing paper.

Here's a link to a video that shows the process using mica powder. I think the same process would work for gold leaf:

Click "enter site"
Click "techniques"
Under "special techniques" select "kira-zuri (mica technique)"

Good luck!

Carols Original Prints said...

Ooooh! Thanks Annie. Have checked out the video. Will try that when I get everything together.

Melissa Salzman said...

I have only used gold leaf in framing and drawing but have always used the sizing they sell with it at the art supply store and then burnished the leafing to the paper. Not sure how this will work between plates with intaglio as the paper will be wet for printing. Try leafing the paper when dry with the toxic glue (stuff that gives you cancer always works best) and soaking paper after leaf sizing is completely dry and set THEN soak paper for printing. Should work if leaf sizing is not water soluble.

Anonymous said...

I've only used gold leaf in framing and drawing so I'm not sure how it will behave in intaglio printing. I like to use the toxic sizing they sell with the leafing at the art supply store (stuff that gives you cancer always works best in printmaking). I would adhere the leaf to the paper, burnish and wait for it to dry and set completely BEFORE soaking to print. The glue shouldn't be water based so this should hopefully work.

Melissa Salzman said...

I guess you can send the gold leaf through on an uninked plate (and not sticky surface) after printing the inked plate if you want plain leaf surfaces.  Otherwise, print as a normal chine colle. 

Have you seen the recent  Printmaking text, "Printmaking: Processes and Technique" by Beth Grabowski and Bill Fick? (Prentice - Hall) It's a really good book. There might be info there in the chine colle section.

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