silver leaf question

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Justin Berg
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silver leaf question

Post by Justin Berg » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:26 pm

hello all, I've done gold leafing on automotive applications several times but never tried silver leaf till the other day. Everything went find until trying to engine turn it. Velvet would simply do nothing. After many trial and errors I found a wash rag would do the trick, although I had to apply quiet a bit of pressure in order for it to look right. I'm assuming this isn't normal? What is happening if this is the case. any help would be greatly appreciated, I'm about to wipe it all off and just get some white gold instead.

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Jerry Berg
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Jerry Berg » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:24 pm

My first thought would be that your size dried to a hardened state. Happened to me before.

Justin Berg
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Justin Berg » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:00 pm

creepy that first reply has same last name hehe. well I don't think it was a size issue. I used rolco quick. 45 minutes until good snap then laid the leaf then turned it 5 minutes later. Same results from trying it 5 minutes later to 1 hour later. I'm afraid if I put leaf on any sooner than 45 minutes it will be too wet and tear. Guess i'll have to try a sample or mix some slow with my size to open the window more.

erik winkler
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by erik winkler » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:02 am

An orbital grinder then? :mrgreen:
Seems to me that the leaf could be too thick.
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Justin Berg
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Justin Berg » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:27 am

I'm starting to wonder if it is actually aluminum leaf or composite they gave me instead. It's a bit thick, feels more like variegated thickness. The booklet is unmarked with any type of brand but receipt says its genuine silver.

Mike Jackson
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:00 pm

Were the leaves 3.25" x 3.25" or 5" x 5". If the latter, you probably got aluminum leaf instead of silver.

Also, I would suggest trying Paladium or White Gold leaf. It has a warm feel, but looks a lot more like silver. It is less likey to tarnish than silver, too.

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pat mackle
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by pat mackle » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:05 am

As to whether it is aluminum or silver, try touching some ammonia to a sample of the suspect leaf and see if it tarnishes into black.
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Larry White
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Larry White » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:00 pm

I always like to use a slower size when doing any type of burnish work like that.
I'd also agree with Mike, I'd use 12K white gold.

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Kurt Silva
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Kurt Silva » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:58 pm

First off, don't use silver leaf. That is real silver. Too many issues with tarnishing. Aluminum leaf is often times used instead. Here in the Northwest, it is the standard for auto and motorcycle application.

Aluminum leaf and 23k gold leaf are worlds apart. Aluminum leaf is much thicker and it does require more pressure to create the engine turned effect. You won't see the same degree of turning using velvet or velveteen on aluminum as you'll see on gold. You might try blue paper shop towels.

Water based size is also widely used in this part of the country when applying alum leaf. Most of the stripers I know use it. Ready for gilding in about 15 minutes and stays open for 15 hours plus. It is impervious to solvent based clears, which you can spray or brush on immediately. For wider stripes and lettering, brushstrokes can be a problem as it doesn't level out as well as an oil based size. Also be sure to remove the masking tape immediately after brushing the size on.

Be sure to get professional quality leaf, not the stuff from the craft store. Pacific Coast Sign Supply in Portland Oregon is a good source for all types of leaf and leaf supplies.

Lee Littlewood
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Lee Littlewood » Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:54 pm

Also note that you can get the aluminum in rolls.

Also in rolls: 23karat gold, silver (I think), copper, brass, and varigated leaf.
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Kent Smith
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Kent Smith » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:41 pm

I have had many calls over the years about this Definately too hard a size for aluminum or palladium for that matter. Both 1Shot and Purcell's (Letterhead Sign Supply) fast sizes are formulated for more cushion but only if you lay the leaf at the right time, too late and it is too hard for non-precious leaf. Aqua size will help with more cushion but I prefer slow size or tempered size. For faster work, adding slow to quick (tempering) aids in cushioning. 1/4 by voume will be enough for aluminum and extends the set to tack time typically in 3 hours. 1/2 is better for copper, variegated, palladium since they are so rigid and will be to tack in 8 hours typically. Straight slow size works the best if you have two to three days to wait. I would never use either silver or white gold. Even under any clear coat, silver will tarnish to purple or black and white gold will have streaks of tarnish. Velvet spinner in a drill will also give a better appearance.

Justin Berg
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Justin Berg » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:06 pm

The sheets are 3.5 and after trying the ammonia trick it did turn black. Did some digging in my collection from my grandfather and besides finding some bon ami cakes I found a box of large leaf that must be 15 years old. It's thicker so believe it to be aluminum. Tried it and after 30 minutes with the rolco quick size laid it down and was able to spin it beautifully with velvet. Thanks for the replies I'm new to anything besides gold leaf and trying to go back to old school tricks with new school flair to honor my late grandfather. Don't know if anyone here knew of him but he was well known in the 70s and 80s. Chuck Berg out of Montgomery Alabama. Worked with mark flair in his last few years. I do have one more question since I can't ask my grandfather questions anymore.what is the trick to hiding the lines created from overlapping the sheets?

Kent Smith
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Re: silver leaf question

Post by Kent Smith » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:28 pm

Be sure to close the laps by pressing the leaf back over the lap. Use a ball of cotton, the heel of your hand or a gilder's mop to do this. Laps are more obvious if the size is too dry and there is a tiny gap left. Thick leaf like aluminum, composition or varieagated are more likely to have lap lines. One of the purposes of a good velvet burnish is to hide these lines besides lighiting up the gild with reflections.

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