Genuine English Gold Leaf

Gilding of decorative features with genuine English Gold leaf using traditional gilding sign writing techniques. Sign writing and gilding done on the rear of glass panels and the interior of shop windows, of which was very popular Victorian England ideal for heritage building restorations, museums and public houses (as we like to call Pubs!).

I will of course undertake and apply gold leaf on an inferior metal such as cast iron brackets and wrought iron gates. I will also gild stone and wood including picture frames. I will not gild figurines made of resin and objects made of plastic. And I will definitely refuse to gild 3D printed resin objects, so please do not ask.

Traditional Gold
Leaf & Gilding for

  • Vintage Vehicles
  • Shop Signage
  • Reverse Glass Lettering
  • Commercial Vehicles
  • Rolling Stock

The History Gold Leaf & Gilding

The craft of beating gold and layering it onto a surface dates back five thousand years to ancient Egypt. Even during ancient Egypt to make all items of importance solid gold was impractical so the malleability of this metal enabled it to be beaten to an extraordinary thinness and stuck onto a surface using glue.

Many artefacts of Egyptian gilding can still be seen and unused beaten gold was also discovered inside the tomb of Tutankhamun. Nero had a bronze statue of Alexander the Great gilded. The Greeks also used gold leaf to decorate statues and the interiors of temples. In 800 AD monks applied it onto vellum to illuminate the book of Kells. The Staffordshire hoard shows magnificent examples of gilding done on metal by the Anglo Saxons during the fifth Century. However the earliest documented description how to beat, apply and burnish gold leaf was in the book called a Treatise on Divers Arts by Theophilus Presbyter, a German monk from the 12th Century.

Robert Stevenson - The Signwriter, Staffordshire - Gold Leaf & Gilding
Robert Stevenson - The Signwiter, Staffordshire - Gold Leaf & Gilding

< Treatise on Divers Arts by Theophilus Presbyter

Robert Stevenson - The Signwiter, Staffordshire - Gold Leaf & Gilding

< Home is Where the Heart is Painted in Reverse Gold Leaf

Again gold leaf was used to richly illuminate the book of hours during the 15th Century. It was used in the religious paintings done during the Italian Renaissance on wood panels and frescos. Three hundred and fifty years later, much to the annoyance of John Ruskin, who believed gold leaf should only be used to represent or applied onto something that could be made of gold: The Victorian signwriters used gold leaf to illuminate and decorate their lettering done on everything from carriages, shop fronts, sign boards and reverse lettering done on glass.

The following was my introduction into the secret art of applying gold leaf

“This is how you make the gold size,
now paint it on,” said Vic

“I have done that Vic, what do I do now? You wait!

A while later he said, “It is ready. This is how tacky the size needs to be, now this is what you do.” A brief demonstration followed. “Your turn” and then off he walked.

Later he returned and without any close inspection of my first attempt at gilding he said, “You have missed bits” Where, I can’t see any? I said. He picked up a used up square of the paper that the gold gets pressed onto “I will show you how to find them” and that was it.

“How long do you have to wait before it is tacky enough to gild? I asked. “ There is no exact time” and then he continued with “When you have done enough of it you just know if the size is ready or not.”

Vintage Vehicles & Gold Leaf Gilding

The principles of applying gold leaf are relatively simple, but because of the various aspects of how it can be done and what can be done with it; it can take years of practise, commitment and dedication to master this craft.

Robert Stevenson - The Signwriter, Staffordshire - Gold Leaf & Gilding

< G. S. Kirk black lettering is painted on a gold leaf ribbon

Robert Stevenson - The Signwriter, Staffordshire - Gold Leaf & Gilding

< G. S. Kirk Wood Grained ERF Cab

Robert Stevenson - The Signwriter, Staffordshire - Shirley's Transport

< Shirley's Transport Cab wearing Gold Leaf Livery

Robert Stevenson - The Signwriter, Staffordshire - Victorian Brackets

< Traditional Victorian Gold Leaf Shelf Brackets

Robert E. Stevenson – The Signwriter

Traditional Signwriting for Heritage, Commercial & Vintage Projects