How To Antique Gold Leaf in 4 easy steps.          

How to Antique Gold Leaf and Composition Gold Leaf

Adding the finishing touches to your gilt surface, whether Genuine Gold Leaf or Composition, imitation gold leaf, requires just the right know-how. And artSparx delivers the expertise to give your project that extra glow.

antique gold finish

Your project should be completely gilt before starting the antiquing process.

Before you start: Seal and protect your leaf

Insure the gilt object is sealed with a protective coat of water based or oil based varnish.

Master's tip. If you were to apply an antique glaze over untreated leaf, the leaf may become stained or or dulled, losing the highly reflective quality of genuine gilded surfaces.

What sealer to use?

Genuine Gold Leaf: It is not necessary to seal Genuine Gold Leaf that is 23kt or higher. However, you may wish to add extended durability for 'high traffic areas' like furniture, objects and doors.

Composition (imitation) Gold Leaf: It is required that you seal Imitation Gold Leaf to prevent tarnishing. Composition Gold is primarily composed of Brass and will oxidize over time. Therefore it is necessary to apply a barrier coat of sealer to prevent oxidation and tarnishing.

Selecting the right varnish for your project

Oil-Based Varnish: Protect the leaf with a coat of oil based varnish, Satin or Semi-gloss sheen. This seals the leaf, protecting it from moisture and air. It also acts as a barrier coat between the leafed surface and the antiquing glaze that soon follows. Clean your brush with the appropriate thinner.

Water-Based Varnish: You can also use a water based varnish to seal gold leaf and Composition leaf. However, water-based varnish tend to 'bead' on the slick surface of metal leaf. Therefore a high quality water based varnish is recommended. Hydrocote Polysheild Clear topcoat (Satin or Semi-Gloss sheen), is a water based varnish that responds well to metal gilt surfaces.

Antique glaze for gold leaf
Preparing Antique Glaze

Step 1: Mixing your antique glaze.

You may use artist oil based paint in tubes, artists acrylic paint in tubes or Universal tinters to create an antique glaze solution.

Mixing these 3 colors will create the 'Classic Antique Glaze' tone suitable for most any object needing some basic aging. Of course, you can play with the blending proportions, but we've found this ratio blend to be quite versatile.

3/6 Raw Umber

2/6 Burnt Sienna

1/6 Van Dyke Brown

Thinning your antique glaze to the correct transparency.

Thinner- mineral spirits (oil-based) or water (water-based).

Varying the amount of thinner will adjust the darkness or lightness of the antique glaze.

This recipe can be used alone or adjusted for specific decorative finishing jobs with the addition of a glaze coat,  or varnish. Some decorative treatments, including color washing, rag-rolling, marbling and wood graining, require the use of glaze coat.

For more information on creating your glaze solution visit the 'Classic Antique Recipe".

how to apply Antique glaze to gold leaf
Applying Antique Glaze

Step 2: Apply glaze solution loosely over surface, working in a straight even fashion.

Antiquing gold leaf finish
Softing Glaze

Step 3: Use a dry brush to 'drag' the glaze in a straight, back and forth motion, smoothing out as you go.

Keep your brush dry using a clean rag to remove excess. In case the glaze 'beads', allow to set momentarily then smooth out with a dry, soft brush, as before.

Softening the Antique gold leaf patina

How to Antique gold leaf
'Buffing' High points

Step 4: Using a dry rag, buff up 'high' points, allowing the recesses to remain darker, mimicking the processes of time. Use a dry brush again to even the antique finish if necessary.

Master's tip: Approach the art of antiquing by thinking about what naturally occurs over time. Details on objects and furniture acquire age and patina naturally, but dirt, dust, etc., settles over time. If you where to clean a frame, for example, all the high points would get continual wiping and cleaning, while the recesses and deeper areas, the 'harder to get to' places, stay darker - as the dirt and dust is more difficult to remove in the areas. We mimic this process by removing excess glaze on the high points, while letting the glaze remain in the recess and crevasses.

Antiquing gold leaf sealer
Cleaning ' Up

Step 5: Apply an additional coat of sealer for added protection.

Clean up. Remove any tape and wipe any edge lines that may have glaze that 'bled' under the taped areas.

Dispose of used material appropriately.

Oil Gilding Video Tutorial

Quick Dry oil size gilding. This detailed demonstration shows you how to apply genuine gold, Silver, imitation gold, aluminum and copper leaf to objects and furniture using the classic 3 hour oil size method. Brought to you by the folks at, you'll learn about types of adhesive, testing for 'tack' and drying rates, easy leaf application tips and cleaning and burnishing the leaf.

Featured Product Ideally suited for exterior applications.

Gold Leaf Kits - Oil based

Professional Gilding Kit - 23kt Gold Leaf. Each kit contains: Basic step-by-step instructions, one book 23kt Gold Leaf book (Patent leaf) one 4 oz. bottle of yellow/ochre oil based Gilding Primer, natural hair brush, one 4 oz jar of oil based gilding size, one 4 oz Acrylic Top Coat Sealer, cotton and mixing sticks, wet/dry paper and book of leaf. Solvent-based. Each Gold leaf book contains 25 leaves. Each leaf is 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" square. Approx coverage is 1.7 sqft.

UPS Ground shipment only.

Learn more and purchase sealers for gold leaf now.


Related Features