Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

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Alex Sheldon
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:49 am
Location: Detroit, MI
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Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Alex Sheldon » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:52 pm

Aluminum foil can be used to protect gilds and used to add an interesting, fast and cost-efficient matte depth effect to your reverse glass work. This method is briefly outlined in Kent Smith’s addendum to Gold Leaf Techniques and recommended to me by a fellow Detroit-based letterhead, Mark Casey. The method of procedure wasn’t elaborated on too much in Gold Leaf Techniques and there where no photos of this work, so I figured I’d experiment with the process.

Mix 1:3 damar varnish to quick rubbing varnish and apply with a brush or roller to the desired area of glass. This tacked up to a gum-like state for me in about 50 minutes. The aluminum foil is much heavier than gold, so a stronger tack was what I aimed for. My rationale for adding damar was to acheive a thicker varnish, allow for more open time, and to fill the wrinkles in the foil. I used a very clear windsor and newton damar that is readily available at Blick.

Cut a sheet of aluminum foil (you know… that stuff from the kitchen) slightly larger than the area of application to allow for material shrinking during wrinkling. I used an exact blade to trim and square the foil.

Wrinkle the aluminum foil by holding the ends and bringing them to the center. Pay attention to the sizes of the wrinkles and try to keep them as uniform as possible.

Do not “ball” or roll the foil, as it will lead to tears or pock holes in the foil that will later need to be patched or ruin the foil sheet.

Gently pull the foil back into a flat position to prep for laying the foil on the glass. Now is a good time to inspect for pock holes in the foil. I tried a couple times before I was able to get a satisfactory piece that was free of noticeable holes. I didn’t try patching, but I suppose a second application would be possible.

Apply the foil to the glass as flat as possible starting from one end working to the other. Rub the back of the foil using enough pressure to push the foil into the varnish.
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Robert Schwieger
Posts: 120
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:38 pm
Location: Nebraska

Re: Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Robert Schwieger » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:38 am

Interesting application. Is the damar varnish the heavier damar or the picture finish damar? The picture varnish seems too thin for this process. Thank you.
Bob.

Alex Sheldon
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:49 am
Location: Detroit, MI
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Re: Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Alex Sheldon » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:55 pm

Robert Schwieger wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:38 am
Interesting application. Is the damar varnish the heavier damar or the picture finish damar? The picture varnish seems too thin for this process. Thank you.
Bob.
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Here's the dammar I used from Blick. It's Windsor & Newton and sets up pretty fast with the majority of the varnish being quick rubbing. My 1:3 ratio was done by eye. The varnish is much thinner than the stuff Letterhead Supply sells, but seemed to do the trick.

Wild Bill Betz, a sign painter and gilder here in Detroit gave a tip on thickening dammar at a meet. Grab a cookie sheet, and pour your dammar out into it. Keep it covered from dust for a couple days. He mentioned you can get dammar to thicken up with this method, but I've never tried it. When the dammar is thicker it can be reclaimed.

Lee Littlewood
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Re: Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Lee Littlewood » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:28 pm

Damar is a so-called "spirit varnish", which I take to mean that it dries by evaporation but does not cure. So it can be re-dissolved by the same solvent (turpentine, maybe other materials?) - old-time lacquer was the same, and shellac. You can get damar all the way from crystals to a thick liquid to a watery liquid. One use is for final overvarnish of oil paintings - i think the point is that the damar protects the painting, stops the dirt and smoke and suchlike, and then can be stripped off without affecting the (cured) oil paint underneath. Anyway, I think LeBlanc suggests leaving the cap off a bottle of damar, and he also adds Re-N-Gel to stiffen the mix when he is doing an embossed center. With aluminum foil you have the texture already; you just need to stick it to the back of the glass with a gap-filling clear material, and thick damar sounds good.
I'm not sure if pigment from the adjoining paint might migrate into the clear - when I did it with regular boat varnish all my background color bled into the tin foil area. A layer of shellac might help.
where am i? Now, when i need me...

Doug Bernhardt
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Re: Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:24 pm

Just an aside....Damar is a traditional artist's painting medium and is usually mixed with linseed oil while doing oil paintings. It's also used as a finishing varnish BUT it does yellow and will eventually cure to a tough hard yellow film.

Years ago while at Fine Gold's Conclave the honourable Mr. Glawson suggested using "Frog Juice" which ever after I did. Was absolutely perfect in clarity/colour and easy to use. Was also the perfect solution to apply pearl and tinsel (indoor only use) and has never hardened past the point of tearing up the outlines and decorations in the way solvent based varnishes and super glue did.For jewels it's of little use...that is best left to UV cure glue.

Alex Sheldon
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:49 am
Location: Detroit, MI
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Re: Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Alex Sheldon » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:14 pm

Thanks Lee - I like your idea of using shellac as a barrier and will be experimenting with this. I did another sign like this using the method as described, but used Alphanamel for the background and experienced some bleeding. Alphanamel feels like 1Shot paint with more extender added. I found it didn't cure as fast on glass (although it covered great). I waited 24 hours after painting background and varnish and Alphanamel bleed into each other. I imagine if more time was given to properly cure - this would have been avoided.

Thanks Doug - Thanks for the tip on the yellowing damar. I did notice the aluminum foil is slightly less yellow than the WB 12k gold. Maybe it will work to my advantage here. I haven't used Frog Juice - mainly because I can't find their product anywhere. Do you know where I can order from? 1 Shot makes a solvent based UV clear which I've used with success in pearl work.

I never mentioned that I made a metal frame for this which wraps around the scallops and the back is protected by the sheet of tin - I imagine this also helps the foil from delaminating. I cut a piece of tin on a band saw, used a brake to bend up the sides, and tapped them into place using a tiny ball peen hammer. Hammering metal onto a finished glass piece using a hammer is super nerve wrecking. I've never broken a sign, but the stress of doing it was enough to find alternate methods of hanging pieces like this.

Alex Sheldon
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:49 am
Location: Detroit, MI
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Re: Gilded aluminum foil matte effect

Post by Alex Sheldon » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:23 pm

Here's an example of the metal frame I was describing. I got the idea from seeing old nameplates
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