Gilding/Leafing as a component in calligraphy- questions.

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Gilding/Leafing as a component in calligraphy- questions.

Post by Jennie » Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:41 pm

Hello all.

My boyfriend is about to finish up his 1 1/2 year sentence in prison (non-violent offense, marijuana) . While he was in, he learned calligraphy and gilding from a nun who ministered to the inmates. Apparently, he has real talent at it and has done numerous signs for the institution. His artwork is prized amongst the guards too.

He wants to make a good start at his life upon release and already has a good job. He says that his gilding/leaf work is an important meditative thing for his life now, and asked if I could assemble a kit so he can have it when he's released (next month)

Can anyone suggest what sort of tools and materials he will need? I've already purchased some 24K gold leaves (2 booklets of 25 each). He says he needs some "valim" sheets to make picture manuscripts? Does anyone know what this is?

Also, does anyone know what tools he will need for gold leafing and caligraphy?

I can't wait to see him again and start new- I want him to have the things he will need.
Any help will be greatly appreciated. Sorry my questions don't have much knowledge behind them, but the associate at the local chain craft store knew nothing about this, and could only direct me to a beginners calligraphy kit that seemed pretty junky.

Oh yeah, just to add- I bought these gold leaves for him on ebay. Does anyone know if they are OK?

Doug Bernhardt
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Post by Doug Bernhardt » Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:52 pm

Hi Jennie,
I think what you are asking about is "velum" which a type of leather/paper. But I think more importantly is to point him towards a "Calligraphy Society" in your neighbourhood. In Canada here, there are usually a societies where like minded ppl get together etc. I've seen their work and it is beautiful. This would be a good place to begin your search...and wishing the best of luck to him.

John Lennig
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Post by John Lennig » Fri Nov 03, 2006 10:19 pm

only to say... all the best to your boyfriends new Life, and yours too! doing this work(love) is very good for the soul, as he has discovered. Hopefully, you both can appear here in words /art and inspiration occasionally.

"You spelled it wrong!"

Kelly Thorson
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online supplies

Post by Kelly Thorson » Fri Nov 03, 2006 10:51 pm

Hi Jennie,

Here is a link to an online art supply that should have everything you need. It is a reputable place, you will probably find it a little more pricey than some places, but the quality will be there. Maybe you can print out the relevant catalogue pages and get him to tell you what he needs or wants. There are a lot of different methods and tools depending on what he is doing.
I'd suggest you go for quality instead of quantity. The right tools make the job much more pleasant and less frustrating. As far as the gold, generally you get what you pay for. Often the cheaper buys are thinner and have lots of pinholes. I don't know how that effects calligraphy, but I'm sure it will do for starters. Here is a link to some basic info on gold leaf from a great supplier. ... ProdID=888 It may help you understand a little more about gold leaf.

It's nice that you are setting him up for success, all the best :)
I believe there is no shame in failure. Rather, the shame lies in the loss of all the things that might have been, but for the fear of failure.

Catharine C. Kennedy
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Post by Catharine C. Kennedy » Sat Nov 04, 2006 6:17 am is another great source for calligraphy material and books. Best wishes from here too on your new lives- please keep in touch- can you post any of his works? :D
Catharine C. Kennedy
Chatham Center, NY

Mike Jackson
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Post by Mike Jackson » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:26 am

Try clicking on the link below: ... alligraphy

That page will help you locate a wealth of informantion and sources. Watch for names like John Stevens and Carl Rohrs. They are friends of many of the people on this forum and are absolutely great talents. Calligraphy is an art form that more or less runs parallel to the sign trade, with a few artists which can mingle back and forth between the two. Still for what you are asking, I believe you will find more focused answers to your questions on the Calligraphy forums and sites.

Good luck!
Mike Jackson - co-administrator
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
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Post by JennieC » Sat Nov 04, 2006 6:14 pm

Thank you all so very much for your advice and kind words!
I did indeed find a calligraphy society in our area. Hopefully, they will accept him into the club.
Anyway, as soon as he is released, I will post pictures of his work. He spends an unreal amount of time on each piece... There is no way I would ever have the patience to do that!! :lol: I just hope he understand that in the real world, there is rarely time to spend 7 or 8 straight hours working on lettering and gold leafing like there is in jail :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks again so much!!

John Lennig
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Location: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Post by John Lennig » Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:40 pm

Good to hear your fast progress , Jennie! btw, without Light Out, and meal breaks.... you can spend Way More Time on gold leaf & lettering.... ask us how we know! :lol:

"You spelled it wrong!"

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Post by JennieC » Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:04 pm

Santa Maria! :o
I took out one of the little leaves of gold from the package just to look at it and it almost completely disintegrated in my hands!! :( I thought it would be like tin foil, but this stuff makes tissue paper look like steel!

How do you guys handle this stuff? Do you need special tweezers or something?

Robare M. Novou
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Post by Robare M. Novou » Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:15 pm

Yes, you sometimes need special tools for handling the gold leaf. But it can also be handled without the special tools. I guess it all depends on your skill level.

As a beginner I would suggest that you get a good book on gilding and its application.

There are a few out there. Try your local library, art supply store, or Ebay. Your Calligraphy Club should also be a big help in your learning how to handle the gold leaf for calligraphy purposes.

Kent Smith, of this forum, authors a book on gilding. Im sure he would be happy to sell you a volume. He even conducts Excellent clinics on gilding for the beginner.


Kent Smith
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the gold too

Post by Kent Smith » Sun Nov 26, 2006 5:45 pm

No one mentioned yet that I saw but you have in your hand some very old books of what I have always considered the top of the line in gold leaf. It is no longer manufactured and I would save it for special, personal projects. Others have given you good sources. "Illuminating" is adding gold leaf to various parchment pieces including calligraphy and there are as many methods as there are materials. I would suggest a good text on the subject would be a better guide so that the materials you acquire will be consistant with the methods you learn. Best of Luck.

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