Gold foil on to raw wood

Hi one and all. Still alive and kicking happily in Mississippi, fan making and Glowfingering the while.
To the problem - I would like to ‘gild’ my fan sticks, that is a solid metallic gold all over, because there was a 19th century fan company in US that did just that.

For both fan sticks and fan frames, I used to use gold leaf, both water- and oil-gilding in days gone by, but with Goldfinger doing all the cutting for me, I’m looking for a speedier finishing process.
Over the last few years, I’ve refined the process to sealing the thin sticks (1/32" thick basswood) with shellac, then a layer of red acrylic, polished that, then gilded by painting on Rub-n-Buff wax polish, thinned with a little mineral spirits. When dry, polished, and distressed with steel wool, till the red showed through in an appropriate way.
It might sound longer, but it is far less nerve-racking than gilding with genuine gold leaf.

What I am now investigating is the use of a hot press that I own, big enough for me to do a whole set of sticks in one go, along with ‘gold’ foils.
This is an effort to find a dry process, that avoids raising the grain of the wooden sticks, and all the sanding and dust management that it brings with it.

Although I don’t know for certain(more research needed) the original fan company - Hunt and Allen - used to gild directly on to the raw wood surface, probably using just dampening the surface with gelatine and water.
So I assumed that I should be able to devise a simpler process using stamping foils.

I have found that the foil that I have, designed to hot stamp onto card, doesn’t go down into the depressions of the grain. If I use a thin layer of shellac or acrylic, that is better, but not as complete a coverage as I would like.
I’ve come across ‘stretchable’ vinyl foils, but suspect I might need to use an adhesive layer with these. Having the foil print over the edge would be an advantage, so I’m keen to try these, but want to avoid the additional stage of painting on anything before foil pressing.
I should be most grateful to hear from anyone who has experience in this field.


Have you considered laser foil rather than the vinyl foils?

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No, I haven’t. Is there an advantage, considering that I need to adhere the foil across the whole surface, not a pattern ?
Not familiar with the product - could you explain ?

The adhesive is very strong. You apply to the wood, then cut. Expensive, unfortunately.


Thanks for that link - bookmarked.
EDIT I assume that I should have to cut around the applied foil as a secondary GF cut.
Is that the way it would work, or would careful removal of the foil with the unwanted metallic layer work , ie, the metallic layer parts cleanly around the edge of the heated part ?

It’s good to see you back! I was looking at my uncompleted fan frame the other day and wondering about you. COVID messed up my plans for getting it finished using @timjedwards 's pro, so it’s just sitting there waiting for the pandemic to subside or me to get a pro!

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I think your autocorrect took over

Never mind, now I see it’s intentionally. Nice play on words.

Due for my 2nd shot next week, and trying to keep all my projects going in parallel.
That, and ‘zooming’ in all directions !
Keep safe, y’all,

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There is no heat involved with this particular laser foil. You just apply it to your material before cutting - think of it as a veneer applied to the raw wood before cutting.

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Is it a pressure sensitive, so I’d cut and weed away the background, then apply it to the wood ?
I foresee registration as the main problem then.
Mmm, must give it some thought.
I am now seriously considering going back to using oil gilding, but with dip-coating the sticks in gold size as a way of speeding up the process.
Thanks again for the suggestion.

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If you can guild a very sealed recycling system there is the original gold and mercury that you heat up enough to drive off the mercury. I would not be surprised if they were still doing it 100 years ago. The temps required are not so high that you could not guild wood or other organics,

Alternatively there is electroforming that gives a different look that an electric paint is plated with other materials like copper and then a wash of gold that is a few molecules thick.
This is using really basic materials

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It would seem that we collect very similar techno-process trivia in our memory banks !
I came across mercury/gold methods when I was framing oval mirrors back in the late 80’s,.
As a school lab technician, I was used to setting up mercury baths for barometer experiments in both the physics lab and the chemistry lab. This was in the days before ‘health and safety’, so having unprotected hands immersed in large dishes of mercury was no big deal.
Electroforming I looked at when I was trying to come up with a way of making molds that reproduced antique fan sticks, but I never got as far as actually trying it.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane !

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