Are you ready to take your calligraphy one step further and experiment with something really exciting? Gold leaf is a fabulous medium to explore and there are simple ways to learn about applying gold leaf to calligraphy which are affordable too!

Handwritten & gilded calligraphy names available in my Etsy shop

The paper

It’s really important to have a smooth paper base if you want a smooth finish to your gilding projects. Choose a heavy cartridge paper for your first tries.

The size

Size in this context means glue. You need something to adhere the gold to your paper – and all glues are NOT created equal!

For lettering with gold leaf, I love Kolner Miniatum. It’s fluid enough to run through a flexible calligraphy nib just like ink – but be warned it’s very sticky indeed and hard to get off your nib if you want to then write in ink!

For gold leaf edging, PVA glue is a basic and effective adhesive. Get a mid-range PVA, and a brush to apply it with.

The gold

Transfer or loose? For me, transfer is so much easier to handle than loose leaf gold. It makes sense to start with this – you lay the entire sheet complete with backing paper over your project, then press on with your fingertips. Simple!

Real or faux gold?

Real gold leaf is beautiful. I’d never use the faux stuff – it doesn’t stick as well (it feels kind of clumpy coming off the backing paper) and just doesn’t have as nice a shine.

How to apply gold leaf to calligraphy

First apply your adhesive to the paper wherever you want your gold to go. Do this with a metal nib or a paintbrush – and use plenty, don’t be stingy with it!

Wait 10 – 15 minutes for your glue to become tacky. If the glue is wet when you apply the gold leaf you’ll get a very lumpy finish. When it’s tacky, place your sheet of gold onto it and rub firmly through the transfer paper with your fingertip. Remove the backing paper then use a clean, dry paintbrush to brush away any excess around the edges of your letter.


Join me for a modern calligraphy workshop in Manchester!

Friday 6th October, 1pm – Manchester Craft & Design Centre – tickets £65
Friday 20th October, 10am – Anthony Burgess Foundation – tickets £30*
Saturday 21st October, 10am – Anthony Burgess Foundation – tickets £30*
Friday 24th November, 1pm – Manchester Craft & Design Centre – tickets £65

*Workshop only price – calligraphy kits will be available to purchase on the day.