Gold Leaf letters
Signwriting with Gold leaf also known as Gilding, Glass gilding or surface gilding is one of the most attractive finishes on any shopfront. The Gold used is is generally 23 Karat for window and signboards and dimensional Gold letters. Anything less will tarnish and not have the lustre of the higher Karat. Many paint shops supply “GOLD LEAF PAINT”(Midas Touch) which is a product that will shine when it first goes on but will go downhill, to a mucky brown, within a short period. I have seen many times when a painter would freshen up gold leaf letters with this gold leaf paint and by the time he had his cheque cashed the once beautiful letters were on their way south.But funnily, a year down the line, when the paint darkens, the gold leaf, that was painted over, starts to become visible again through the varnish of the “GOLD PAINT”. Gold leaf is actually applied to a glue called size where it adheres to the surface when the size reaches the perfect tack. The length of time the size remains open can give the gold the best lustre.
I use a thicker 23 3/4 Karat from the UK. Lots of leaf comes from China nowadays but generally is not as good a quality. I have done Gold leaf raised letters for Hughes Pharmacy in Clane, in 1994 and Kieran still paints his shopfront around these letters 23 years later. He actually replaced the sign board last year and we repositioned the letters without any issues.
We also regilded the letters on the iconic Thomas Fletchers pub in Naas
which involved stripping the old letters right back to natural wood and priming, prepping and gilding. Thats done a few years now. We also Gilded The five Lamps pub in Naas in the 1990’s. While it’s not the original front ( I don’t think it ever had an original shop front when the 2 sisters owned it) the beautiful copper repousse, done by a guy called Pollard, if I’m remembering rightly, from Ballymore, gave the front a brilliant unique, in a good way style . The New owner wanted to take the sign down and bin it as he wanted to change the front but I convinced him to keep this beautiful copper crafted sign, by advising that a gild of 23 K gold leaf on that copper would give the sign another life. It is a life 20+ years now.
It’s been a while since I have glass gilded anything. It is a slow process and involves the use of materials such as Gelatin, Distilled water and luvly tools such as gilders tip, gilders Knife and cushion and a bit of static from your hair to hold the gold on the tip prior to placing it on a gelatin and water solution soaked window. The gold jumps from the tip to the glass and forms a mirror gold on the glass which is then backed up with black paint and varnish to protect it during window cleaning. I have the remains of one still in the Hoky Poky coffee shop in Newbridge. There was a fire in the premises and an over zealouus window cleaner scrubbed of a portion of it. It still looks brilliant another lifetime on……. even with its bits removed. This process was a favourite for the Legal professions windows high above the streets of cities where the leaf would make the letters highly visible/legible from a fair distance.
The fantastic old Pub “Flanagan’s” on the back street in Newbridge has an amazing old sign over it’s door. The owner was opening an off Licence next door and needed a sign. Instead of making a brand new modern sign, we made it look like the original one over the pub (good old bad signwriting). While the signwriting isn’t the most amazing, it is this what gives the sign it’s originality and shows the style of the Signwriter back in the day. This is done a long time and there is aluvly little mistake in the lettering on the fan window, something on the lines of ” licensed for the sale of wine, spirits and beer for consumption on or the premises” . Brings to mind “a printer publishes his mistakes a doctor buries his”.
I am now in love with gold leaf on carved letters. When you gild engraved or prismatic letters the gold just hops off the board and changes it’s lustre as you walk by depending on the position of the sun. when you look at a gold leaf sign along a street full of shops, the one that will be most legible and stand out above the rest will be the one and only… just remember
GOLD LEAF CANNOT BE PAINTED.
Newbridge Sign Shop
unit 7 Century Bus Pk
Newbridge Ind Est
045 438 689