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How to Apply Gold Leaf to Canvases


How To Apply Gold Leaf To Canvases – Gold leaf is a luxurious material that can make your painting pop. Despite its persona, imitation gold leaf for crafts isn’t as expensive as you may think – nor is it as rare.

Instead, the real issue with gold leaf is knowing how to apply it correctly. Get the process wrong, and the leaf might flake off your canvas or fold in a way that ruins your art. To make sure you don’t fall into this trap, we’ll teach you how to apply gold leaf to canvases.

The Best Colours To Use With Gold Leaf

To get the best out of the gold leaf colors, you need a dark canvas. This could mean the body of your painting has dark tones, or that the canvas itself is closer to gray than white. Either way, you need darkness to make your gold leaf pop.

This is to make your gold leaf an important part of your artwork. If you are using the leaf as a gold sparkle in a night sky, or as the inlay of a character’s coat, you are probably expecting some attention to be drawn to this artistic addition. To make sure it stands out, give it something to juxtapose.

Preparing The Canvas

To make sure your canvas is ready for the leaf, you need to do 4 things:

  • Create the layer the gold leaf is coming out from
  • Wet your brush and remove excess water
  • Apply a thin layer of water-based adhesive to the areas that should contain gold leaf
  • Wait 2 or 3 minutes for the adhesive tackiness

The second and third part of this process is easy enough, but the first and fourth should be taken with real care.

If you are using the whole canvas as a golden display, then you don’t need to do anything. But if you are creating an image that needs gold to emphasize a point, then this background painting needs to be completed first.

Then apply the adhesive to the area which will use gold leaf. 

When you’re checking for the sticky factor, use your knuckle for the least amount of contact. If it’s still wet or not sticky, wait a little longer.

Preparing The Workstation

Gold leaf is a very fragile substance so while you’re waiting for your adhesive to reach prime stickiness, you should prepare your workstation. This means removing any drips of adhesive from your finger or the table. Use warm soapy water to do this.

Next, you should close any windows or turn off any fans to stop the leaf from fluttering. Even a tiny draft could ruin your control over the leaf.

Applying The Gold Leaf

To make sure the golf lead stays flat and doesn’t mold to your body, you should use wax paper.

First, you should open your gold leaf booklet and remove the protective layer. Then smooth your wax paper over the newly exposed gold. Very gently, you should use your palm to flatten out any wrinkles in the gold leaf.

This process helps the gold remain wrinkled, and also helps it stick to your wax paper. Once stuck, transferring will be easier.

Pick up the corners of the wax paper, which aren’t touching the gold leaf. Lower it gold leaf side down, on top of the sticky area, you prepared before. Smooth the leaf using the wax paper as a barrier, do this gently but with pressure to help the gold stick.

Once you’re confident that the gold is stuck, you can remove the wax paper.

Touching Up The Gold Leaf

If any gold leaf remains outside of the adhered area, you can use your fingers to tap away the excess.

Cover the whole area in wax paper, and then use a clean and soft cloth to apply more pressure to the gold leaf. This will make it extra secure.

As the final touch-up, you should use a small and stiff-bristled brush to flick off any remaining gold leaf. Be gentle in this process.

Sealing The Gold Leaf

You should give the gold 3 days to truly set into the adhesive. Then use an acrylic varnish to seal in the gold leaf’s placement. It will need two coats, but use the instructions on the bottle to see how far apart these coats should be.

Lastly, let the canvas dry lying down before hanging it anywhere.


So now you know how to apply your gold leaf. The process will be more delicate and even frustrating if you only need the gold leaf on a small element of your canvas. ll.

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