Construction, Process

Discovering GOLD in Italy

gold leaf

[Note: I’m pleased to welcome a guest post in this space today, as it frees me up to spend extra time on other exciting projects around ItalyByWeb, like a site redesign that’s in the works, and responding in greater detail to recent client inquiries. -Robert]

Robbin Lynn Crandall is a food & travel writer, a self-proclaimed foodie and a lover of “all things Italian”. From Robbin:

Discovering GOLD in Italy…

Well, I’m not talking about the type of gold you’re probably thinking about. I’m referring to ‘gold leaf’ or ‘metal leaf’—sheets of alloy hammered to a delicate thinness, and then hand-applied to decorate our classic Italian furniture.

If you’ve never watched someone gold leafing a piece of Italian furniture (a process also known as ‘gilding’), you’re missing a real treat. The video below shows the delicate and fine hand work in gilding the edge of a cabinet. I never get tired of watching this process!

The sheets are so thin, they seem impossible to work with. And yet…our Italian artisans do. Very well, in fact.

What is ‘gold leaf’?

Gold leaf is a foil that comes in a variety of shades and is usually made of silver, aluminum, copper, brass, platinum, and gold (including many alloys), all of which look gorgeous when applied to quality furniture.

These thin sheets of metal leaf have the ability to be overlaid on wood, stone or metal and is easy to apply, either by brush or by using a gloved finger, depending on the surface where it is applied.

Much like using mother of pearl inlay for your dining room tabletop, or wood that has been salvaged from years spend in the canals of Venice, gold leaf is another decorative technique that adds beauty, luxury and value, instantly turning that piece into a treasured heirloom.

A video in this previous post also shows one of our Italian artisans gold leafing the edge of a table with a raised design. Different from the first video where the artisan uses a gloved finger with the gold leaf in order to achieve a smooth finish, this artisan uses a paintbrush to push the foil into the crevices of the table edge.

The care of your gold leaf Italian furniture

Cleaning your gold leaf furniture is really quite simple, although you should take care not to clean your piece as you would an item without it.

A gentle touch with a soft-bristled brush is best for light dusting; for a heavier dusting, you can use a vacuum cleaner, but be sure to hold the nozzle a couple of inches away from the piece so you don’t scratch it. As you can imagine, any metal leaf surface does NOT like the moisture of a damp cloth.

Buying a treasured piece for your home

We have great ideas for placement of gold leaf on your piece where it would look best, but tell us what you like best! Since each piece is custom made for you, placement of the decoration is limited only by your imagination. No matter what you decide, gold leaf always manages to achieve the same beautiful result.

If you’ve never purchased a piece of furniture with gilding, I highly recommend it. It adds class and elegance to any piece of furniture like no other decorative technique can, and the results speak for themselves.