Money Saving Recipe for Gold Leaf Sizing

Artisans world-wide spend a fortune on commercial brand oil-based gold leaf sizing.  The most popular brands include Luco, Dux, and L.A. Gold Leaf.  Pricing for quart size containers range from $35 to $55 depending upon retailer pricing.

Fast drying sizing sets up in 2-4 hours depending upon environmental conditions, humidity and airflow.

Regular slow setting sizing sets up in 6 – 8 hours depending on conditions.

Should the artist wish to save their hard earned money, I recommend buying a quart of Rust-Oleum Spar Varnish instead for around $18.00.  It will set up for tack in around 2-6 hours depending upon thickness of layer applied and environmental conditions.  For a faster set, cut it with mineral spirits or turpentine.  Mix well.  Experiment on painted wood or metal with various cuts in order to determine what works best in your environment.

As it is often recommended that one apply an oil based sealer “primer” prior to applying sizing, especially if one is gold leafing metal objects for outside use, I recommend buying a quart of Rust-Oleum Topside paint for around $18.50.  The gold leaf specialty companies sell their so-called “burnish sealers” for $46.00 to $66.00 per quart.

I buy the white gloss Rust-Oleum Topside paint and add yellow or red pigment when working with metal objects destined for outdoor use.  Pigments can be purchased from most art supply houses such as Dick Blick, Utrecht, Jerry’s Artarama, and Cheap Joes.

For indoor plasters or wood, two coats of  Sargent Art Liquid Metal Gold acrylic paint works well as a base coat sealer. 

Unlocking the mystery….

There is no mystery to gold leaf sizing or burnish sealer.

  • Gold Leaf Sizing=varnish.
  • Burnish Sealer=oil based paint.

The real mystery is why are so many artists pay exorbitant prices for oil based paint and varnish.  I suspect a course in brand marketing, consumer psychology, and perhaps basic chemistry would be in order for one wishing draw further conclusions.

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