Printing some of my photographs on gold or silver [actually just metal] leaf is something I do from time to time, but have never gotten around to pursuing it enough to print a body of work that way. What I found surprising is that all kinds of subject matter from documentary to more illustrative work lend themselves to this process.A couple of weeks ago I needed to come up with a print to enter into a local arts center exhibit. The photo I had in mind was from a 35mm film negative and – with apologies to Simone Martini – depicted a ‘re-enactment’ of his annunciation piece from the 1300’s. I have always been particular drawn to and amused by the way he depicted Mary, interrupted in the reading of what might be interpreted as a romance novel, by the Angle Gabriel, with the announcement.Her expression seems to say ‘What…..!? are you out of your mind?!”
So much for background. To make my gold leaf prints I need ,in addition to my ink-jet printer and all that, watercolor paper on which to print, some acrylic paint for the base which will receive the gold leaf, adhesive size, metal leaf, InkAid, and protective spray, some brushes.
After picking the image on my computer:
I create a new layer on top of the image, select an area slightly smaller than the image and fill it with white. That way I can make a preliminary print of the image dimensions on the paper.
and fill that area with the acrylic ground on which to apply the gold leaf. That is, after the acrylic ground has been brushed on, it needs to dry and then the adhesive size is brushed on. It dries in about 30 minutes and then the gold leaf can be applied. I am rather sloppy doing this. The operation is a bit messy but very simple. There are all kinds of ‘how to’ articles on line that tell you how to apply the leaf.
Once the gold leaf is on, and the remaining gold debris has been brushed from the paper and been cleared from the work surface, the InkAid can be brushed on. I usually brush on one or two coats. It needs to dry several hours, best overnight, before the coated paper can be run through the printer. Once it is dry open your image in Photoshop and load your paper into the printer. Be careful to insert it the same way you inserted it when you just printed the border, and use all the dimension and margin settings you used then. For printer settings I use ‘Enhanced Matte’ and slow down the Ink Configuration drying times in hope of avoiding too many ‘pizza wheel’ tracks. Usually I am not very successful at that. On my printer the ‘pizza wheels’ are those little wheels inside the printer that hold the paper down. Some people who do this kind of printing a lot sometimes remove those wheels permanently. I don’t have the guts to do that and would advise against it. Sometimes I try to spot them out after I have applied the finishing spray to the print – usually I let it go and just consider it part of the process. Of course there are also some printers who don’t have those wheels.
Here is my print coming out of the printer:
This one has some really bad pizza wheel tracks and I printed another one, where they were less noticeable.
I have learned that I can’t properly scan or photograph these prints in a way that acurately reflects their appearance. So, this was a ‘quick and dirty’ guide on how I do it. Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions if you need clarification on some of this.
Oh by the way, the links to materials are just for information.I have no connection with the manufactureres or sellers.