Gold leafed Hardtail Stratocaster. Quick Update. Protective clearcoat.

The last application of imitation leaf has had about three days to dry. I’ve wrapped the body tightly in bubble wrap to protect it over the weekend – to try and cut down it’s exposure to the air. The thing about oil mediums in general, is that they take ages to dry properly. Oil paints take well over a year to fully dry out, and some varnishes seem to keep a “softness” about them even when you think everything is fully cured.

But I need to protect the colour of that imitaion leaf. I plan to eventually spray a decent nitro clearcoat over the whole body, and then polish and buff it up to a rich, liquid shine. I’ve got one can of clear nitro left over, in the workshop. It’s probably a bit too early to spray a full thickness at this stage – so I’ll shoot a few coats for now, and then beef up the application at a later date.

Hanging the body for spraying

After checking the body over, and cleaning out any loose bits of leaf I can find in the pickup routs, I hang the body in the usual manner – having also plugged the string ferrules with a little tissue paper. The first coat of sprayed nitro is a very thin mist coat. This acts as a key for subsequent layers. I leave about an hour between each coat, and build each successive coat a little thicker than the previous. Making sure the edges, and the usual tight spots around the neck pocket are well covered. The whole can lasts long enough to provide four decent coats.

Close-up of metal leaf application

Checking the body over before it’s stored away again, for the nitro to harden and cure – the leaf seems well sealed. The nitro will probably colour up a little amber over time – but that should tone nicely with the gold anyway. The texture of the leaf shows through, and all over the body I can actually feel small ridges – possibly where edges of leaf have been fixed in a slightly raised position. These should all flatten back with polishing – but I’ll probably need to build up more of a clearcoat to do this safely, without risking taking off any of the thin, metal leaf coating.

The texture of the gold looks OK, and shows through – pretty much in the way I intended. (In the images above – my Hardtail has the blue masking tape in the neck pocket. The Strat with the gold hardware is my original inspiration). Close up – the gold does appear to have puckered a little – perhaps exaggerated by the drying oil size – but that’s probably to be expected. Normally the leaf would be applied flat, and would be stretched out by the drying oil. Here, I’ve draped and twisted it to provide a bit of texture – but there’s always potential for “slack” in the leaf. I’m hoping that the oil may continue to dry out a little more, and that any outgassing will still manage to escape as the lacquer goes through it’s own drying process. I can’t see the texture of the gold changing now though. Close up – it’s perhaps not quite what I was expecting, but the more general appearance is exactly what I was after.

The body is stored safely away in the drying cupboard. I reckon a month should do it, and then I’ll look to build up a thicker clearcoat for polishing out.

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