Gold Leaf Boat Lettering

Hand gilded names & stripes on boats.

Gold leaf lettering on boats has a long tradition. Many of the boats shown here have wooden hulls and varnished transoms. If the boat is cared for and the varnish re-coated regularly, the gold will last for ten to thirty years. Gold on a fiberglass boat must also have a protective clear top coat. The gold is only three thousandths of an inch thick and scratches easily.

Painted letters with a gold leaf outline... a good look not used much.Engine turned gold name Burnadette with builder Pete Kass of John's Bay Boat.Engine turned gold leaf name Content

Gilding is a process of painting on a glue called size. When the size is tacky and nearly dry, small sheets of gold leaf are placed over the area. The gold only sticks to the size, and the rest of the gold can be reclaimed. When the glue is completely dry, the area is wiped with a wet ball of cotton to remove small flecks of gold. Finally, the letter is outlined. This name was gilded with palladium leaf, which will not tarnish like silver.

Hilaire simple modern gold scriptPalladium leaf being applied to sticky sized letters. Extra leaf is gathered and saved for future use.A wet ball of cotton removes the remaining loose metal. A painted outline cleans up the edges and increases visibility.The next day the entire transom is varnished to protect the metal leaf from scratching. Gold trailboard on CristobalPiping Rabbit in gold on mahogany.
small gold name on a new Maine canoe.Gem Stone showing palladium and gold colors of metal leaf.Gem Stone in paint shop. Gem Stone showing palladium and gold colors of metal leaf.Bellatrix in the water.Northern Spy with logo artwork to work from.My equipment set up after gilding from a float in the harbor.My equipment set up after gilding from a float in the harbor.Engine turned gold Bellona
Engine turned gold leaf name Content

Engine turning puts microscopic scratches in the gold leaf. This makes the gold catch and reflect light, no matter what direction the light is coming from. It also makes the light glint and flash as the boat rocks in the water. Gold is so soft that the scratches can be made with a piece of velvet. A pad of velvet is twisted while gently touching the gold. For large jobs I use an electric screwdriver to hold and spin the velvet.

Close-up on letter N partially engine turned. You can see how the turning catches the light. Engine turning with a smaller tool creates a more vibrant effect like on Truantengine turned gold Chris-Craft logo Chris-Craft adv. imageRemember When name on Chris-Craft.Scooter name on Chris-Craft.Muskrat Bill on the water. Bellatrix engine turned letters.Flying Fish on a day sailer. the elusive Common Sense The boat Holly was lettered in the water from a skiff... in the rain.historic schooner Brilliant's gold bow name copied and reproduced from previous lettering.