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Archive for the ‘Leafing’ Category

Decorative Finishing: Goldleafing and Silverleafing


A five-foot high wall set on either side of an entry to the new Macy’s in Aventura Mall. Architectural specifications called for each wall to be covered with sheets of pure Silverleaf.


A decorative “leafing” artist was engaged to apply the delicate sheets. Originally from Shanghai, she followed the traditional method as she worked with each small square. Slowly, meticulously and patiently.


She demonstrated immense respect for, and understanding of the properties of those razor-thin sheets. Harvested from melted, then solidified, then thinly-sliced pure gold.


I watched her work, whenever I was prepping or finishing surfaces in the same general area.


Periodically, I noticed tiny clues of concern in her eyes. Also, controlled frustration..


At long last, she completed the painstaking project. The architect rejected the finished job. The problems were apparent, especially to the artist herself.

1. The area – two half walls – was too large for genuine leafing, without any flaws.

2. The Silverleaf sheets were too fragile to guarantee a perfect job.

3. The sheets, which tore very easily, had done so. Especially at certain corners.

4. Leafing was tedious-intensive work, that could not be rushed – eg. by a deadline.


Macy Stores’ executives opted for complete removal of the Silverleaf.


After removal of the Silverleafing…

…my job started.


First, I prepped the entire surface area to its original “new construction” condition.

Next, I primed both walls.

Last, I painted the walls in acrylic enamel. Very attractive. Not beautiful like the Silverleaf.


About my “Leafing”  experience… 


I’ve done small leafing applications – eg. silver, gold, copper. Examples: Columns, frames of murals, walls, furniture, mirror frames (small, large), trims, railings.


Each beautiful when completed. And, as each sheet and every section came out perfect, I was thrilled.




1. Use proper adhesive prep. – eg. Rabbit glue.

2. Use hair blow dryer to lay leaf down.

3. Make sure burnishing tools are polished.

4. Use Badger Hair mop or comb for brushing down leaf.

5. Make sure gilding pad stays firm, yet soft.

6. When applying a sealer or clear finish, use airbrush or detail spray cup gun.

7. Wear rubber-soled shoes to help eliminate static electricity.

8. Use an artificial leaf when speed and productivity are required – eg. commercial application.

9. When learning, compare application methods to see which one is easiest for you to perform.

10. Try leafing on ornamental object, with a smooth surface. This helps to diversify your capability.


Try these small “leafing” projects to get you started – and to learn the craft:


1. Wooden jewelry box

2. Candlesticks, or simple candelabra

3. Lamp base, or smaller mirror frame

4. Wood molding, chair rail, crown

5. Cabinetry molding – smooth surface, simple design and construction

6. Door or drawer knob or handle

7. Desk-top picture frame


“Leafing” is an art. A fantastic outlet for a painter’s finer creative aspirations.



No need to turn over a new leaf. Just cover a little surface of your life with Gold or Silver.


Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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