The Power of Gold

Carol Hall  ~ 484-228-1232  ~


The Power of Gold


Gold has long been a sacred symbol of power, immortality, grandeur and prosperity.  Who wouldn’t want to harness that power in their art?

Surface Prep – For the best outcome, remember not to “RUSH” your surface prep:

R – Raise the Grain – By wetting the entire piece and then completing your final sanding, you will minimize getting a fuzzy surface when you paint.

U – Use Wet Water – Mix 100 parts tap water mixed with 1 part Dawn Dish Soap. The soap breaks the surface tension of the water, allowing your paint to have exponentially more flow.  Wet water is a game changer if you want soft edges and filmy color changes.  You can also purchase pre-made surfactants (Liquitex Flow Aid or Edwards Condition Air), but we are makers, and this DIY version is about a penny worth of material.

S – Seal your piece with Chroma Craft Clear Sealer (2–3 coats) or a 1 lb cut of super blonde flake shellac (1-2 coats). Shellac will impart an amber tone to your wood, and after it dries you will need to thoroughly de-gloss the piece with acetone on a paper towel, so that the grain is sealed, but the top surface is receptive to the paint.

H – Heat Lamps will speed up your wait time between processes.


Wood – Sanded to 220 grit. Flat or turned.  Raise grain before the final sand

Sealer – Chroma Craft Clear Sealer or 1 lb cut of shellac (very blonde)

 Acetone & Mineral Spirits

 Paper Towels

 Paint – Chroma Craft Airbrush Paints or Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints

 Heat Lamp

 Sizing – Midas Gold Leaf Aqua Size

 Metal Leaf

Gilder’s Wax – Chroma Craft Chroma Gilt

Frog Tape


½” white nylon square brushes for painting

2” soft brush to pick up, move and smooth the leaf

1” stiff square brush to stipple and brush off excess

Eye Shadow Applicator       

“Wet Water” in a 360 Mister & Water Basin

Burnmaster Pyro Pen    

Fume Extractor (426DLX), Fan, Air Ionizer, Range Hood, Fire Extinguisher

Spray Lacquer – Chroma Craft Clear Acrylic Gloss Lacquer w/ UV Protectant


Imagery – Choose imagery that expresses what you are interested in.  Your collectors will be more interested in your body of work if it reveals and explores something you are passionate about. 

Googling “Clip Art” – If you can’t draw, search “Clip Art” as a reference or pattern (followed by your choice of topic) you can see copyright free art with many interpretations on any subject.  Add “Line Drawings” to the search for simplified images that are great to trace and then embellish.

Image Transfer Tips 

Crumpling  – It’s tricky to transfer an image drawn on a flat piece of paper to a 3-D form.  Crumple the paper up to break down the fibers (until it gets a softened, sueded feel), which will allow it to arc across a dimensional surface.

Zots – You can then attach your image with Zots or Adhesive Dots (found in the scrapbooking section of your local art store). Then re-draw the lines with carbon paper, transfer with Acetone, or burn directly on the piece.

Direct Burn –  Make a copy of an image that you want to trace with your hot pyro pen.  You can buy expensive Pyrography Image Transfer Paper, or you can just use regular copy paper and have a yummy latte’ with the money you save.


Safety –  You only have one set of lungs, so take care of them. Use a Fume Extractor (426DLX), a Fan to blow away smoke, and a Range Hood to expel it from the room.  An Air Ionizer is also very helpful to remove the burnt smell.  Always have a Fire Extinguisher in your studio.

When transferring an image you want to use a knife tip at a medium – high heat.  For gold leafing, the burned edges will act as a border for the glue and leaf, like in cloisonne. 


You will see a huge difference in your work using the correct paint. I like to work very wet on wood, because I can’t stand a plasticy looking surface.  Chroma Craft Airbrush Paints or Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints are wonderful because they immediately emulsify when thinned down, but retain strong pigment and binder density.  No Heavy Body Acrylics! 

I like to use ½” white nylon  square brushes for painting. Turn it on it’s side and it’s a 1/4″ brush – two for one! 

Clean H2O = Pure Color.  It’s never too soon to change out the water you use to clean your brushes.  If it is dirty, it’s going to impart that color to your paint.

Paint your image, keeping in mind your color scheme will be greatly changed when a bold, luminous gold area is added.  You may want to have colors around that area that are tonal or color compliments or opposites for “POP”.

Un Painting

When your paint goes astray, un-paint it before it dries. Lift the paint with a barely damp, clean brush and wipe the paint off on a paper towel. Rinse brush, wipe excess water off on a paper towel, repeat. This allows you to easily control your edges. If your surface is properly prepared, un-painting is a breeze!

If your paint has dried you can use acetone and a Q-Tip or brush to gently remove your paint for a fresh start.

Paint “Not Your Image” – Many artists spend so much time massaging & rendering the main object in their design and they never even consider the area around it. Painting your subject’s surroundings can liberate and add huge depth to your work. I am often reminded that some of my most successful paint moments are not those used for my main topic. Sometimes, painting the area around your subject can define it’s edges better than focusing on delineating it directly.

Ground Color for Leaf It can really make your leaf pop to use a ground color. Chinese Red is traditional for Gold. If your wood has a distinctive grain you can paint the surface with gesso and sand lightly to make the surface flat.

Masking – Tape around the area you want to guild to mask the area.  Use Frog Tape. The end. It sticks well, comes off when you want it to, and has Paint Block Technology. Who could ask for more? You will end up with so much less clean up.

Option 1:  Leafing

Apply Sizing –  Midas Gold Leaf Aqua Size is so easy to use because it has a long tack time – 25 minutes – 24 hours. Because it is water-based, clean up is easy. Misting your surface lightly with wet water can help flow the size across.  Use a soft brush and work quickly to avoid brush strokes, which will show up as textures in the leaf.  If your surface is thirsty or textured, a second coat may be in order.  Let dry for a minimum of 25 minutes between coats or before using. The surface will stay tacky for up to 24 hours.

Leafing – You have many options for your leaf – real gold, imitation gold leaf, copper, verdigris copper, silver and pewter. The gold sheen can vary greatly on imitation gold leaf. 

Be Still – Turn off all Fans!  Close your windows!  Hold your breath!  Using leaf is like painting with smoke. These whisper thin metal sheets can be very tricky to move. You can lift them with a piece of wax paper or a soft wide brush.  It helps if the brush has a bit of static electricity (rub it on a piece of wool).  Gently lift the leaf onto your sized surface in small sections and brush it down with your soft brush.  When your surface is covered use your stiffer brush to stipple down into any texture and pull the loose edges away. Pull the tape when everything is tamped down. 

You can collect the small bits of loose leaf in a jar to use later.  If you toast them, you can alter their color in a cool way.

Option 2:  Guilding

Apply Gilder’s Wax – This also comes in a variety of metal tones and colors.  I like Chroma Gilt by Chroma Craft, because it keeps it’s creamy texture while I use it.  Other manufacturers products dry in the tin and I am constantly battling reconstituting them.  To apply, I like to use my finger or a flat brush, which will echo the kinds of line edging you get with real leaf.  If you have a lot of texture, use a swirling dry brush technique.  Let dry before removing the tape.

You can also use Gilder’s Wax to color pyrography & grain, dry brush high textures, gild rims, add age/patina, and paint in shadows.


You will need to protect your leaf from tarnishing with a spray lacquer finish.  I like a rattle can with a UV protectant that is crystal clear, like Chroma Craft’s Clear Acrylic Spray Lacquer in Gloss.  It also comes in bulk to spray with an airbrush or paint sprayer.  A shiny finish suits the gold better than a satin one.

Remember that all colors hold meanings for people and I think none is more powerful than gold.  It came across space from meteorites that bombarded the earth 3.9 billion years ago.  For over 5000 years, people have sought it’s rare beauty.  All of us have a bit of gold inside of us (.2 MG for flexible joints and better nerve impulses).  More if you eat it – it’s edible!!!  1 cubic foot weighs a ton, but gold is pliable enough to be as thin as a thread.

We should all be so brilliant, so flexible, so sought after.