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Metal Leafing

Shiny new things! The phrase instinctively conjures images of extravagance, luxe, indulgence, merchandise; all consumerist pleasures in life. Yet home décor is oblivious to its splendour. Not entirely oblivious, but gold is seldom a conscious choice for anything to do with home décor. Cutlery being the sole exception! Even so, cutlery entails silverware. The problem with metallic finishes is the uniformity; the wash of metal over furniture or walls is simply too flashy to dress contemporary homes in. They worked in palaces with their lofty ceilings and massive spans. With many hours at their disposal, craftsmen carved and etched nooks and corners with ornamentation that complemented the expensive metal. Gold has much progressed but also aged with time. No longer are the metals ordained in their glitzy demeanour, but preferred in a dull and distressed finish. And therein enters gold and silver leafing.

Gold or silver leafing is the technique of hammering gold into thin sheets. The ‘leaf’ has been used by Egyptians since 2500 BC and the Greeks used it around 1400 BC. Gold, associated with Gods was used to cover deity statues and adorn their tombs. The ‘leaf’ is layered over a surface and the process is called ‘gold leafing’. It was used in architecture for its properties of withstanding climatic conditions, degeneration and even pollution in this day and age.

In the present day and age gold-leafing is used within similar contexts but it’s visual and aesthetics have altered. Earlier, gold was used to ascertain all that it embodied; Wealth, deity and royalty. With the passage of time, gold leafing is used to impart an antiquated vibe in spaces it is used.

The finish is dull and dated, consciously so. It does not scream for attention nor ventures into ‘gaudy’ territories. It commands attention with its warm and rich persona with a radiant gold. Or a youthful silver.

A gold or silver paint will coat your furniture, object or wall in a uniform layer, rendering a flat appearance. But leafing settles into curvatures and joints. The object appears crafted from the said metal.

The gold-leaf wall light by Manufacturer Metal Lux di Baccega deliberately allows traces of uneven gold-leafing for it creates textures and allows light to emit and emphasise the same. The same also imparts an antiquated aesthetic to the light fixture.

Similar light fixture in silver.

The technique is also applied to decorative wall products.

But for those looking for more than an accent, gold and silver leafing can beautifully highlight walls.

And not a feature or fraction of a wall, the sombre metal finishes can be worn by large spanned walls with poise and panache!

Here’s the thing about silver leafing; silver is grey with a varying degrees of sheen. It is the grey of exposed concrete finish and a seemingly ‘muted’ colour palate. Silver leafing elevates the colour to a feature and its rough edges lend a casual atmosphere. And if a wall is too exhaustive and accessories are too diminutive to exhibit metal leafing, furniture treads the middle-line perfectly well.

Maybe a console or even ‘metal leafed’ sliding doors that appear and disappear. It creates a focal point akin a ‘metal leafed’ feature wall but is less obvious in the larger scheme of things.

And then there’s that fourth dimension that discreet yet discernible; the ceiling!

And gold and silver leafing triumphs not only on aesthetic grounds but also in terms of ease of application. The job can be easily outsourced to respective vendors or executed by the homeowner themselves. It is advised to start small with petite and hardy objects like vases, mirror frames, lamp stands, pen stands, etc. before  moving on to more ambitious projects like furniture, walls and ceilings.

With objects that already have a finished surface; the application is as easy as cleaning the surface for dust and grime, applying adhesive and finishing with the gold and silver leaf. But surfaces like wood also require sanding and primer before the gluing and leafing. And walls are best left to the professionals because not only is the method slightly tedious but also gold and silver leaves are expensive materials to waste on trial and errors.

The Cheat’s Way – Cheating is easy and cheap! There are many wall finishes available that reproduce the same finish. It is a cheaper option but surely doesn’t last as long as gold or silver! Do not confuse gold and silver leafing plaster with ‘paint’. The plastering process is a slightly labour-intense than paint and the finish is closer to metal leafing is executed well.

To conclude, there’s a way with metal leafing that fits every budget and home! What’s yours?