For more then 7000 years, mankind decorated all sorts of surfaces and items that presented an idealistic value with fine layers of gold. For this purpose gold dust or gold leaf was used.
Vassari (1511 – 1574) writes that a gold coin, 1 Dukaten, was beaten into thin sheets of gold leaf and produced between 120 and 145 sheets. Today the same amount of gold produces 1200 leafs with a sheet thickness of 1/8000 mm.
Gold leaf cannot be handled by touching it with the hand.
Instead fine combs made of squirrel hair are used to transfer the leaf from a leather cushion onto the object.
Gold leaf comes in small booklets, 25 sheets, 80 x 80 mm
The shine of the gold is not only determined by the quality of the metal leaf, but mainly by the smoothness of the ground and the consistency of adhesive used.
Water gilding on gesso and bole can be burnished to a high shine, whilst oil gilding cannot be burnished and presents a more matt finish.
The combination of oil and water gilding, matt and shiny surfaces, produces a lively finish.
Gold leaf comes in a variety of shades and colours.
With its correct application it virtually has an endless life-span.
Refurbishing of a Coat of Arms at the Michaelis Collection at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town