Illuminating Creativity


At its essence, art is an alchemical process. Alchemy is a process of transformation.
— Julia Cameron, The artist's way

Thank you all so much for attending the workshop this weekend!

Please feel free to email if there are any details at all that I’ve forgotten to include here! I’d also love any feedback you have for how to make future workshops more effective.

1) Printing

I use an Epson P800 to print on my vellum. I’ve experimented with a lot of settings, and this has been the one that produces results that I love best. On my printer, I select “plain paper.”

vellum printing settings

Printing Settings

Don’t forget to experiment!

2) Drying

Your print will come out of the printer curly. As it dries, it will contract and curl in the other direction. One of the ways I know it’s dry enough to touch is to pay attention to the curling process. I recommend waiting a full 24 hours to dry before beginning the goldleaf process, no matter how dry the ink feels to the touch.

3) Sealing

If you want unwrinkled images, your best bet is to seal them first. I use the Mona Lisa Sealer prior to getting started and use cheap sponges so I don’t have to deal with too much cleanup. Wait another 24 hours.

Vellum Printing banner

4) Applying Adhesive

This is where you start getting tactile. Experiment with different brushes and stroke techniques. Try to keep the layers very thin to avoid dimples and over-wrinkling. Wait until size is clear and image is tacky.


5) Applying Gold Leaf

This is the fun part!! Remember, apply the gold leaf to the BACK of the image. Play with different tools and materials. Get your hands dirty. Make a gilded mess. Experiment with adhering using your fingers versus a brush or cheesecloth. Each different brand of gold leaf has it’s own special behavior, so you can only learn the best way by practicing.

6) Sealing

Wait at LEAST two hours prior to sealing the gold leaf. After 24 hours, you can turn the piece and seal the front. The gold leaf will change color if you do not seal it. It’s also very very fragile prior to sealing.

Goldleaf Products

Getting Started: the basics

(click images for amazon links)


Inkjet Vellum: Strathmore is by far the best brand I’ve played with so far. The picture says it’s 20 sheets, but the link should take you to a pack of 50.

Starter Kit: This is a great, economical way to get the basics. It has everything you need other than the genuine gold leaf and brushes. I highly recommend starting with this kit and adding to your supplies as you continue practicing.

Brushes: Since I use them with adhesive, I never ever use nice brushes for gold leafing. But remember that I like imperfection and brushstrokes. You might find that you prefer a smoother brush for adhesive. Also, special brushes are made for applying the gold leaf… but I use my fingers and sometimes cheesecloth.

Genuine Gold Leaf: You can purchase white gold, copper, 24k, and other compositions from amazon, but I highly recommend doing a price comparison on some of the manufacturer websites as well.

Other Products Discussed

Heatpress: If you want flat images, you’ll need to use a heat press throughout the process.

Heat Transfer Vinyl: This is a really fun product that you can iron on to fabric. If I wanted to create a metallic effect on fabric, this is how I would do it.

Krylon Varnish: This varnish is recommended for a less satin effect than the Mona Lisa sealer. It’s also acid-free.

Epson SureColor P800: I print at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies lab on this printer.

Additional products: Madelyn recommended these and it sounds like they could be really fun to play with.

Gold Leaf Example

The Real Deal

Dan Burkholder

Dan Burhkholder

Dan Burkholder invented the method of gold leaf on vellum. He does it behind platinum/palladium prints and it’s gorgeous. If you are really interested in pursuing this, the video is definitely worth the


Karen Klinedinst



Wendy Schneider

The work that originally got me hooked on gilded vellum. Her work is spectacular and, to my knowledge, she is the most visible artist doing this work.