How to Decorate your Lead – Part 2

Now for the gold!

Hello again!

Right, last time we looked at over-soldering. This involved cleaning the lead, applying a flux, over-soldering and then de-greasing.

Really important: don’t touch over-soldered lead until it’s completely cold. You absolutely have to wait.

Once at that stage, you then saw us apply a patina to the lead around a phoenix.

There is a summary in today’s demonstration but you can also watch the whole thing here again if you like.

Today you’ll see a video showing you how to apply gold leaf to an over-soldered saint.

Here are the steps:

  1. Paint the gold size (that is, a glue which is specifically used for bonding gold leaf) onto the surface of the lead.
  2. Wait until the size is sticky. (A “three-hour” size means it will be sticky in about 3 hours. You can also get “eight-hour” and “12-hour” sizes.)
  3. Apply the gold leaf.
  4. Leave the size to dry completely. This takes about a day.
  5. Tidy up any messy edges.
  6. To protect the gold leaf, apply a metal varnish and allow this to dry.

And that’s pretty much it.

Since it’s often easier to learn by watching, just sit back, relax and watch the show:

Now you might wonder if we’ve ever done this for real on any of our larger projects.

And the answer’s “Yes”, for the literary agent’s sumptuous wall panels. He wanted something “over the top”, and that’s exactly what he got.

Here’s the one called “Earth”:

"Over the top?" Don't you mean, "Out of the known solar system?"

Techniques are good servants and bad masters.

Therefore it’s important to use them judiciously and appropriately – and not just “because one can” (which can result in some nasty excesses, that’s for sure).

Now that you see how it’s done, maybe one day you too will find a good use for gilding.

So thanks for joining us here today.

Next time – “spurious precision”.

Yes, I’ve been looking forward to this topic for simply ages.

It’s what caused the recent and ongoing financial crash.

And it’s also relevant to stained glass painting.

Worried? (For my sanity, I mean.)

Don’t be. Speak soon.

All the best,

"With all this gold on, how can I go around telling people I'm a saint?"

P.S. For a complete list of downloads, just click right here.

And to discover the proven techniques of silver staining like you see on the back of the saint’s head, click here. It’s all in “Silver Stain – How You Can Trace, Blend, Shade and Flood from a Reliable Batch that lasts for Months (and Why Water or Vinegar are no Good for This)”. How much money and time are you wasting by not knowing these proven insider techniques?

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11 thoughts on “How to Decorate your Lead – Part 2

  1. Hi fellows!

    Nice little clip – very informative.

    I was just wondering, Is the solder bed really necessary or can you size the lead directly and then apply the gold leaf?


  2. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for your question.

    As you surmise, it is perfectly possible to size the lead directly – that is, oversoldering isn’t necessary – and then apply gold leaf.

    All the best,

    • Hello Fran,

      Thanks for your question. As you see from the video, we use a liquid flux (not a tallow candle). This particular one is made by a company called Multicore and is water-based.

      We’ve had this flux so long that the label is now illegible, so I can’t tell you its product code – but I’ve no reason to think you need exactly this product for the over-soldering to succeed.

      As always, it’s essential to test and practice before doing it for real.

      All the best,

  3. HI Stephen
    With all the attention on your Creme Brulee Soldering iron, I did not ask the Vital Question last time …

    There is mass hysteria about patina, but no one seems to care about flux splatter onto the painted piece, and how to clean it up.

    What is the difference? Is it in the make of flux I use, as I am really worried about the possible effects of flux?

    • Hi Louise,

      Thanks for your question. I don’t know the name of your flux. All the same, with flux and patina, keep them off the paint full stop. The best thing is not to let it happen end of story. They’re not like hydrofluoric acid, but all the same … (And enamels stand little chance.)

      All the best,

      PS Excellent idea to try it on a test piece. Don’t expect fireworks, but, depending on the paint, the firing, and the acid in the flux/patina, you will (eventually) see some corrosion.

  4. Hi Stephen,

    I may be wrong about this but it looks as if the saint’s head hasn’t been cemented prior to guilding. Is that the case? If so how on earth do you cement without damaging, or removing completely, the guilding?

    Thanks again for all the great info!


    • Hi Pete!

      Good observation and excellent question. Indeed it hasn’t been cemented. You’re absolutely right in your implication: in real-life we’d over-solder first, then cement and clean, then (last of all) gild.

      This was one of those – extremely rare – situations where the wish to make a video overcame the requirement of complete accuracy: thank you from everyone for pointing this out.

      All the best,

  5. Did you use real gold leaf or dutch gold leaf? As you varnished it anyway, couldn’t you get away with “going dutch”?

    • Hello Susan,

      We used real gold leaf. The cost is negligible and the effect is lasting. There will usually be different means of achieving similar effects – we can only ever tell you about the things which work for us. I would say that in principle we would always place effect before considerations of cost. And you and everyone else must always do your own experiments.

      All the best,

  6. Hello again
    Please can you explain why it was necessary to apply a patina after cleaning when you were going to lay down the gold size and later the gold leaf which completely covers it anyway? Is it part of the chemistry? Would the size not adhere to a perfectly clean lead surface?
    Your video showed the painstaking work on one individual piece but on a window would you have to do this at the very end when all lead sections had been put together and putty-ed so that that process did not damage the gilding on the section you were highlighting in this way?
    Thank you so much for sharing these lovely techniques,