How to write your name in 22 carat gold calligraphy

Almost a year ago I had an email from another calligrapher who’d seen my gold leaf name on Etsy. She asked how it was done – it’s tricky to add gilding to anything so fine.

I’ll be teaching a calligraphy workshop in Coniston (in the Lake District) on the 21st of March and I decided this would be a lovely project to share with people. It’s deceptively easy with the right tools, and only takes a little patience to master!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen this in my Stories – applying gold leaf is really satisfying to do – and to watch! I wanted to share a more detailed tutorial for you to follow if you’d like to try this at home.

You will need:

Kölner Miniatum Ink is basically a glue with an inky consistency so it flows relatively easily through a calligraphy nib. It doesn’t sink into paper so it gives a raised effect to your finished gilded letters.

Practice a couple of times with the ink on ordinary paper to get a feel for its consistency, as it is thicker than normal ink. You’ll need good light to see it on dark card, so sit near a window or have a table lamp to the side of you.

Write your name on the card and then quickly clean any glue / ink residue from your nib. Too slow and your nib will get all stuck together!

TIP: Clean your nib very, very regularly when writing with Kölner Miniatum Ink – at least every minute, but preferably every 30 seconds or so. It dries and sticks FAST!

Leave your calligraphy to dry for approximately 20 minutes, until all the pink bits have disappeared and the ‘ink’ is transparent. Don’t leave it too long though, as the ink should still be tacky for the gold leaf to adhere to it. As a general rule, apply the gold as soon as the ink is clear.

Take a piece of transfer gold leaf and place it onto the name you’ve written. Hold it still while you rub slowly, pressing with your finger around the edges of every letter and stroke so the gold covers even the thin hairlines of your calligraphy. You can do this twice to get a more thorough coverage of gold leaf.

Remove the transfer sheet and ‘tidy up’ all the loose bits of gold around the letters. Poke the edges and corners within each letter with the tip of your brush to remove the rough bits around the sides, and give your name a little polish with the brush so it shines!

There are still a handful of places left for the modern calligraphy workshop on the 21st of March. Click here for information and to book your (full day) ticket.

For morning (beginners) or afternoon session tickets visit

Easy gold leaf for calligraphy beginners

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.