The Process of Gold Leafing


hardboard or canvas

gold metal leaf (imitation)

Gold size (adhesive)

paper towels

soft rag or cheesecloth

wax paper

paint brushes

acrylic paints

Shellac varnish (sealant)

Damar varnish (to coat the final painting)


1) Prepare the surface

Paint the hardboard (or canvas) with red acrylic paint. Red oxide is the traditional colour used underneath gold leaf. If you use a thick acrylic paint you may see the brushstrokes under the gold. For a smooth finish use a thinner acrylic paint (it does not need to be a high quality acrylic paint as it is only an undercoat).


2) Apply the adhesive (gold size)

Dip a flat brush into water and then wipe off the excess. Dip the brush into a container of gold size. Brush the gold size all over your board/canvas with strokes and covering the entire surface. Apply a THIN coat as the gold size will become ‘tacky’ as it dries. Allow to dry until the gold size becomes transparent and is tacky (around 15 mins).


3) Apply the gold leaf

First wash your hands to remove any adhesive (the gold leaf will stick everywhere). Ensure that you are working in an area without any breeze or air circulating as the gold leaf is very light and delicate! Take a piece of wax paper and place it over your square of gold leaf. Lower the wax paper so it is in contact with the gold leaf. Use the soft part of your hand to rub over the gold leaf, to attract the gold leaf to the wax paper.


Pick up the wax paper and move it over to your board/canvas. Lower the gold over the board and place onto the board. Use your hand to rub the gold leaf so that it sticks to the adhesive.


Lift the wax paper and repeat this process to cover the board


Ensure that the gold squares overlap when placing them on the board. Allow the gold leaf to fall over the edges of the board/canvas


Burnishing - To smooth the gold leaf into place, put the wax paper over the gold leaf on your board. Use the soft rag (cheesecloth) to rub over the entire gold leaf area. Move the soft rag in circles.


4) Remove excess gold leaf

Using a stiff bristle brush, gently remove excess gold leaf by working in small circles (careful not to scratch the gold).


5) Coat the entire gold leaf in Shellac varnish

Use a thin layer of Shellac varnish which acts as a sealant to prevent tarnishing of the gold leaf. Ideally you should wait at least 24 hours before using the Shellac as this will allow time for the gold size to cure and minimises the risk of tarnishing.

The varnish will go a milky colour as it dries. Wait for the varnish to completely dry (around 15 mins).

6) Paint your design on to the board/canvas

When the shellac varnish has dried you are ready to paint your design on top using acrylic paints.  You may need a few coats of paint to create a good depth of colour to your design.

7) Varnish the artwork to complete

To protect your artwork from tarnishing (ie the gold leaf turning green/brown), paint the whole piece with a varnish.  I use a high quality gloss varnish called Damar


Past commissions and customer reviews

" We absolutely love the painting Becky did of our dog Shipley.  The brief was closely followed and resulted in us getting exactly what we wanted from this commission.  I would highly recommend Becky to anyone who is looking to get something special created!"

Ross Riley, West Midlands

"Thank you Becky for the amazing art commission.  The painting is mesmerising and that is exactly how I want to feel when I look at it.  The detail and colours we chose together simply blow my mind and I love the way the light bounces off the gold detail when I walk into the room.  It looks stunning from every angle!

If you want to create the painting of your dreams then I recommend working with Becky."

Helen Adcock, Portishead

"I'm completely in love with Clarissa the Crane who is a stunning addition to my lounge! Being able to hear cranes calling close to my home, I wanted a painting that would depict my vision of one of them standing in the moonlight.  Becky researched cranes and their habitat and used her artistic talent to translate my awkward sketch into something absolutely beautiful.  I love the hues of Clarissa's plumage against the vibrancy of the moon and the delicacy and apparent movement of the grasses.  Thank you so much Becky, this painting is a treasure!"

Jacqueline Ricketts, Somerset