Wednesday, March 18, 2015

All that glisters....

"All that glisters is not gold,
Often have you heard that told"

How true, for had I my own Duchy or were I a Russian oligarch I probably wouldn't give a second thought to splashing 24 carat gold across the walls and ceiling like it were paint (forgetting that when it comes to gilding, less is more). However, the challenge with pulling off the project of WBP (and quite a fun challenge really) is to achieve the look on a budget. So often people who attempt to do this end up with plasticy imitations, tacky eyesores to behold (one does not merely grab a can of dazzle spray paint off the shelf at the hardware store and glitz up the coffee table in one's drawing room).

Above: Alchemist trying to create gold.

There must be, I thought to myself, an acceptable solution somewhere in the world of high end paints, metallic oxides that gave a very close approximation of gilding without the crippling cost. Luckily I did not have to resort to the dark art of alchemy.

I came across 'Dutch Gold', also known as schlagemetal. This is gold coloured metal alloy. Most golds are a combination of Zinc and Copper (Brass). Some are a mixture of Copper and Tin (Bronze). Others are a mixture of three or more metals. The more zinc the yellower the gold. Compositions usually range from 88% Cu/12% Zn to 84% Cu/ 16% Zn. 

Above: Raw Copper (Cu).

Below: Raw Zinc (Zn).

 Below: Tin (Sn).

Many paints use suspensions of these compounds to recreated a gilding look. The are several companies that include a metallic range. Some we found were:

(as Peter said "Is there anything Ralph Lauren doesn't do")

We are having family bring over some samples of the Modern Masters paints over from the US in March when they visit. The one we think may be suitable is Pharaoh Gold, closely followed by two others:

Pharaoh Gold 

Rich Gold

Olympic Gold

Between these we should be able to choose one which works. And they come in gallon pots, not just 30ml bottles like Martha Stewart's gold paint.

Here are two examples of how we wish to gild the Ballroom and The Music Room. We may also use a little in the gold drawing room. The rest of the house will be left alone.

Update 1 April 2015
We have now painted a sample of each of the paints and are very happy with the one on the left, which is Pharaoh's Gold. So, we will be going ahead with this paint in the Ballroom, Music Room, Gold Drawing Room, and perhaps the Dining Room...


  1. That's utterly fabulous!! We just finished my daughter's dollhouse and put gilded (Martha's paint) trim in the living room. Even though it was only a 10inch tall room, working with the gold paint was so fun!

  2. Hello,
    Just discovering your blog and the whole project looks really great.
    Though, i'ld not make all the compromise you're making as the risk is a result looking too "new rich oligarch" .
    Being a decorator, having work for Russians customers in france and Russia, I know what I speak about :s
    So, to me , you should consider another option than gold. First, a paint will NEVER EVER look and catch the light the same as a metal leaf.
    You should use brass leaves , most of the gilding is done this way in new building or refurbishing (mostly for budget purpose). The wood paneling you show from Féau can be reproduce with brass leaves.
    Most of talented craftsmen here use it often. A good patina and a varnish(or not, depending upon your wishes) and it'll look similar to gold leaf gilding.( as long you're not looking for the french gilding technique which implies to polish with an agate stone etc ).
    Hope that'll help.
    Best regards.


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