paintings with potal

Gilding and paintings with potal

Potal is an artistic material used to imitate gold leaf in the restoration and decoration of paintings, jewelry, furniture and other objects, gilding stucco. There are no precious metals in its composition, so it is inexpensive, nevertheless, it creates a magnificent natural shine of metal, which cannot be achieved by other means, for example, metallic paints. Depending on the chemical composition, potal can imitate not only gold, but also silver, copper.

Types of potali

Gilding and paintings with potal

For the convenience of working with different surfaces, it is available in various forms.

The sheet is sold in a small book and is used for continuous covering of large areas. It can be transferable, that is, each sheet is attached to the substrate, or free – the sheets are shifted with thin paper. When working, a piece of the desired size is cut off from the conveyor belt, transferred to the product and only then the paper base is carefully separated. The free one is cut with a gilder’s knife, placing a special suede pad, transferred with a special brush.

Potal in flakes is indispensable for imitating a cracked surface (craquelure) and creating beautiful transitions of light and shadow. Glue is pre-applied to the surface and then sprinkled with potala.

Liquid is an ideal option for a novice artist, since it does not require special skills and is applied with a conventional synthetic brush, like paint.

Potal in the form of paste is most convenient for gilding leather, metal, wood, textiles, jewelry. When the product dries completely, the gilded layer can be sanded to obtain a bright shine.

Wax for gilding gives the product an elegant look. It is used for aging, adding volume, as well as for tinting and cosmetic correction of small cracks and chips. Keep in mind that wax tends to come off the surface if it is subjected to friction, so it is not suitable for all products.

What materials will you need?

Gilding and paintings with potal

Potal refers to the so-called “capricious” materials, so if you decide to decorate something with it, but you have no experience, be sure to check whether everything you need for gilding is at hand.

For gilding you will need the following:

A flat wide brush with a pile of protein (lampenzel), it transfers the free potal to the surface of the product. You can also use a fan brush.

For applying glue and primer, flat brushes with artificial or bristle pile are used. The size depends on the area of the surface to be covered.

The column brush is very soft and is used to gently smooth the sweat on the surface.

The gilder’s knife has rounded edges, it does not even cut, but rather pushes through the potal.

The golden pillow is designed for cutting potali or gold leaf, it is made of thin soft suede.

Gloves to protect the product from getting particles of sebum. Before starting work, the surface must be treated with a degreaser to clean it from grease, lint, dust and other contaminants and thus ensure its best connection with the soil and the potal itself.

Ground for gilding. For wood and plastered foundations, a special potal – levkas primer is used, it includes linseed oil. The adhesive primer is considered the most convenient to work with, since it also contains special glue and is suitable for any surfaces, it is used for free and stencil coatings, in addition, it is suitable for beginners. Bolus primer is available in several colors, which allows you to create interesting artistic effects.

Separately, it should be said about the special glue for potali. There are several types of them, and each has its own characteristics.

paintings with potal

Rabbit glue, fish glue is available in the form of granules and flakes, it must be diluted according to the instructions by steam. It is intended for restoration work.

The most popular is mordan, an oil–based glue. It is used by both professional artists and beginners. It gives a very durable, high-quality coating. The drying time depends on the brand and can last from several hours to a day or more.

Water-acrylic and water-based glue, as well as adhesive milk, are used only for interior work. They are not suitable for covering glass, metal, stone. A significant advantage of this group of adhesives is fast drying (from 15 to 60 minutes).

Alcohol–based adhesive provides strong adhesion to smooth water-repellent surfaces – stone, glass, metal. Dries within a few hours.

Glue in the form of a pencil is designed for applying a thin complex pattern or small details.

From the application of glue to the laying out of the pot, they must withstand a certain amount of time specified by the manufacturer.

For the final protective coating, shellac, a natural alcohol-based resin, is best suited. It creates a very durable wear-resistant layer, so the finished product can be used without fear that it will have scuffs, cracks, damage caused by moisture or temperature drop. When choosing a finishing coating, one should take into account the fact that water-based varnishes oxidize potal, and on the contrary, they retain gilding for a long time on alcohol.

If you want to create some interesting artistic effect on the gilded surface, we recommend using wax or bitumen varnish. With their help, you can make darkening natural for an antique, they give the product volume, an original texture. Patina is used for artificial aging. As a result, streaks and spots of greenish and reddish colors are formed on the surface, just like on antiques. All decorative means are applied strictly under the varnish, otherwise they will be erased. The product is varnished only after they are completely dry.

What to gild?


With the help of potali, you can decorate different surfaces:

plaster stucco,
decorative stone,
textiles, as well as a colorful layer on paintings.

Potal is also used as an auxiliary material, for example when working with epoxy resin:

working with epoxy resin

Where to start? Stages of gilding the product

Gilding is a rather complicated but interesting process. The most important thing here is to follow the sequence of all stages, monitor the drying time of each layer, work very carefully and carefully.


Preparation of the product. The surface is sanded, degreased and ground on it, dried. The excess is immediately removed with a napkin, without waiting for drying.

Applying glue. After complete drying of the ground layer, the surface is covered with glue. The exposure time for all types of glue is different, so carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.

Application of sweat. The prepared potal should be picked up with a lampenzel and carefully transferred to the surface so that the leaves overlap, without joints. You will not be able to correct the superimposed material, avoiding its deformation, so all movements should be very careful. Now smooth it out with a column brush or a piece of soft cloth, lightly pressing on the surface. When working with sweat flakes, try to pour them in an even layer, then press down with a cotton swab. Remove the excess with a brush. Cover the gaps in the coating with pieces.

Polishing. If levkas is used for the base, the product can be polished with a soft cloth, moving from the corner. As a result, all irregularities and seams will disappear.

Fixing with varnish. To protect the product from dust and wear, a colorless varnish is applied with a wide brush: first in one direction, then in the other, making sure that there are no uncovered areas.

Paintings with potal

You can create your first gold-plated product by studying the master class given below. A painting with a potal.

A painting with a potal

For an interior painting with a potala, you will need:

primed canvas on a stretcher,
acrylic paints,
texture paste (optional),
brushes and palette knife,
sheets of sweat,
gloves, rag.

When selecting a palette, focus on the basic colors of the room where the finished work will be located.

Write the desired image on the prepared canvas. It can be an abstraction, a still life, a landscape – it all depends on your imagination. To add volume, you can use a texture paste, pre-mixing it with the paint of the desired color. Let the colorful layer dry properly.

Apply glue to the individual areas that you want to gild. Keep the time specified in the instructions.

With careful movements, transfer the potal to the canvas, smooth it with a brush, remove the excess.

Now you can put the finishing touches with paints, if necessary. Let the painting dry.

Finally, cover the painting with a potal with a colorless protective varnish and dry it.