Gold leafed Hardtail Stratocaster. Gilding with imitation leaf. Part 3

Even application of gold size to the front of the Stratocaster body

This is now the third, and final, day of gilding the Hardtail Stratocaster. Having left things to dry for an extra day – I’m confident that supportingg the body on the newly-gilded surface, won’t actually risk damaging it. The size is laid as evenly as possible once again, and reaches tack in just over an hour. The gold application follows exactly the same procedure as parts one and two – posted earlier.

Newly gilded surface

I try to get a bit of texture to the gold leaf – without making it look too contrived. Too much swirling and draping with the leaf tends to leave long streaks – wheras “just letting it drop” seems to give the most “natural” looking results. The main thing I really want to avoid, is the odd, distinctly shaped, flat area – amidst the overall, random texture. Consequently, I try to ensure that the edges of each leaf don’t land exactly straight and flat, onto the size. I also find that if the gold leaf is twisted too much – then the texture produced can be far too “busy”. In extreme cases, the texture is so convoluted that it prevents the light reflecting well, and this results in apparent, dark patches. Of course – the ideal solution is a compromise somewhere between the two extremes.

The original inspiration for the finish on my Hardtail Stratocaster

I set out to try an match the sort of texture shown on this Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster, (above) – and I think I’m getting reasonably close. Certainly – this looks to have more of the character I was looking for, wheras previous gilding experimets with 24ct, pure gold leaf have tended to look a little too flat and lifeless. It just goes to show – sometimes, fake gold can look far more like the real thing than the actual real thing.

The complete, unsealed, leafed finish

The colour of the imitation leaf is clearly different from real gold – but some of that will be down to lighting conditions, and the fact that there’s a gold coloured undercoat. The fake gold leaf does tend to look a little light when first applied, but when illuminated with an incandescent bulb, (instead of natural light in the photo above) – the antique gold varnish underneath does help to warm the tone up. The imitation leaf will now need a lacquer coat to stop the metal oxidising, and the nitrocellulose lacquer I plan on using will, itself, probably age a little over time, and add it’s own amber characteristic to the mix, as it does so.

I will need to let the body dry thoroughly however – before I can spray anything. Since I just happen to have finished gilding before a (very wet) Bank Holiday – the body will have a few extra days to dry properly. But I want to ensure that the leaf doesn’t discolour much in the meanwhile. I don’t know if wrapping the body up will necessarily slow any oxidisation, (but keeping the raw leaf in a tightly wrapped paper envelope certainly helps keep that fresh for ages).

After the newly gilded face of the guitar has been cleaned up and left for 24 hours to completely dry – I gently burnish the body with a soft cloth, and then wrap it in one of those translucent, foam-type envelopes, (the sort you often get electronic items in). I then wrap the whole thing tightly in bubble wrap. It’ll have the rest of the weekend to dry, out of contact with the surrounding air. Hopefully that will keep the leaf tone reasonably fresh, until I can get a few thin coats of nitro over the top to seal it properly.

The weather next week looks pretty decent – so hopefully I’ll be able to seal the gilt finish, and begin to build up a shiny, protective, lacquer clearcoat.

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