Gold leaf supplies

This page lists various outlets I trust on quality and price for gold leaf supplies. These may be especially useful for calligraphers in the US and UK. But most of the gold leaf below can be ordered online too and delivered around the world.

I imagine you already know whether you want real gold leaf, imitation gold (Dutch metal), loose leaves, transfer sheets or some other option ...

how to buy gold leaf supplies -- a sheet of transfer leaf gold being cut

Three good, reliable stores for high-quality gold leaf supplies are Amazon, Dick Blick and Mister Art. They're also among the less costly. (Bonus!)

I've listed some worthwhile deals below. Shop around: art stores regularly have offers on gold leaf as well as related supplies like size and burnishers.

USA: gold leaf supplies


Amazon does 23-carat loose gold-leaf supplies at good competitive prices, often cheaper than specialist art suppliers.

Remember: loose gold leaf is usually cheaper than transfer, and is preferred by professionals for many gilding projects, but it's harder to handle than transfer gold. And if you haven't already got the extra equipment (gilder's tip, knife, etc) then handling loose gold leaves will be fiddlier still. Believe me, I know.

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Tip: for both loose and transfer gold, check prices of 'art gold leaf' against 'edible gold leaf' supplies -- in case one or the other is less costly, or on special offer! The edible leaf will be a good golden colour, as it has to be very pure gold for food standards -- 23ct (art-grade is often 22ct). And nowhere is it written that you may not gild your calligraphy with edible gold :-) The technique for applying edible gold leaf is exactly the same as for applying art gold leaf.

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IMITATION GOLD LEAF: LOOSE (aka metal leaf, schlagmetal, Dutch metal)

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IMITATION GOLD LEAF: TRANSFER (aka metal leaf, schlagmetal, Dutch metal)

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'Variegated' imitation gold leaf has a shaded, spectrum-tinged colour effect swirled through the background gold, using a heat or chemical process. It's fun, dramatic, and best used on larger gilded areas to show off the pattern. The 'black' is particularly attractive, with smoky blueish streaks wandering amid a vague rainbow effect, like an oily star-shaped puddle. NB The examples here contain 6 sheets per pack.

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UK-based visitors: buy gold leaf supplies (and other metal leaf) online


The far-left example is supplied by the lovely Wright's of Lymm, the oldest gold-leaf manufacturers in the UK. The near-left item, from another of my favourte art suppliers (Ken Bromley), is a brilliant product which I'm surprised not to have seen in US gold leaf supplies: just 5 leaves of real gold, which if you only want to try it out is far more economical than buying 25 at a time! NB: the 5-leaf book is not edible gold ...

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IMITATION GOLD LEAF (aka metal leaf, schlagmetal, Dutch metal)

The near left (Pebeo) product is a full gilding kit, which looks good value. My only reservation as a calligrapher is that the adhesive (size, mordant) is unlikely to be suitable for use on paper. So, it's worth buying if you also plan to gild any art objects such as picture-frames, boxes, book-covers etc; but you may need other materials for your water-gilding onto paper.

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'Variegated' imitation gold leaf has a shaded, spectrum-tinged colour effect swirled through the background gold, using a heat or chemical process. It's fun and dramatic, and best used on larger gilded areas so as to display the pattern, which shows a vague rainbow shimmer effect, like an oily puddle. Unfortunately, I haven't got more product pictures and links for several UK sources, but please consult the list at the bottom of the page for other places you can buy variegated imitation gold leaf supplies!

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On the far left is genuine silver leaf, which may need a sealer of some kind to prevent it from gradually tarnishing over time (which doesn't happen to gold). I am delighted to find that Wrights also do edible silver leaf, and there is no reason why that can't be used for calligraphy purposes too. The imitation silver leaf above, right is most probably aluminium leaf -- definitely NOT edible ;-)

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Real copper leaf, like silver, can tarnish over time and so may need sealing ... the imitation copper leaf offered by Wright's here may be tarnish-proof. I haven't tried it (yet).

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If you're in or near the UK, you might also like to buy gold leaf supplies from ...

L. Cornelissen & Son of London, Artists' Colourmen -- downloadable price lists

Knowledgeable, well-stocked and wonderfully located in a Harry-Potter-type shop. Cornelissens stock different types of real gold leaf, imitation gold leaf, and various types of other metal leaf (silver, palladium, aluminium, etc) too. Worth a visit just to see the little wooden drawers, like something out of an apothecary's storeroom. If you can't find something you want (not just gold leaf supplies; anything arty), try Cornelissens; at the very least, they'll be able to direct you to a probable source. PS They specialise in calligraphy nibs.

Ken Bromley Art Supplies -- take online orders

Ken Bromley's is of the friendliest art suppliers I've used. They don't stock real gold leaf or shell gold, but they do supply imitation gold and silver leaf, palladium leaf and variegated imitation red gold leaf. They also do an excellent range of miniature-painting brushes.

Gold Leaf Supplies -- take online orders

Reliable, easy to navigate and reasonably priced. Occasionally they have special offers on arcana like burnishers, which makes up for charging a fiver of postage on one little tablet of shell gold. Try to save up a few items for purchase in one go.

Wrights of Lymm -- take online orders

I haven't used Wrights myself but I have seen their artificial gold leaf, which is good and inexpensive. My sister uses them and recommended them to me recently, and she has very exacting standards, so I think you'll be all right with them. They supplied the gold leaf used by the 2009 Turner Prize winner, which is almost as good a recommendation as my sister's.

Feel free to let me know your personal recommendations for how or where to buy gold leaf supplies -- just click here.

Happy gilding!

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