Saturday, March 28, 2009

How To Do Silver Leaf Lettering on Harley part 1...

A friend had brought me his new Harley to paint because he thought it was too plain looking. His idea was to paint a silver pinstripe along the body lines of the fenders, and write Harley on the sides of the tank. I had all ready painted his wife's bike a few months earlier, and was very happy with the job I did, so he let me use my judgement for how the lettering was to be painted. I suggested using silver leaf for the inside of the letters, and he let me do my thing...
I started by sketching the lettering on paper, and then adjusting it to the correct size using a copier. Then I used a pounce wheel to make tiny holes in the paper so that I may rub black pounce powder through it. I do this to both sides to make sure that the lettering layout is exactly the same. After that, I gently blow off any excess powder so that only a faint outline of the lettering remains...
I then use a lettering quill to brush on size. I prefer Rolco brand fast drying gold leaf size. When doing this step, it is very important to only brush a thin even coat of size on the tank. If you use too much, the size will pool up where your brush strokes start and finish, and cause you big problems later when you try to engine turn the leaf...
You must wait for the size to dry to the proper tackiness before applying the leaf. If you don't wait long enough, the size will be too wet and cause problems when trying to engine turn. If you wait too long, the size is too dry and the leaf will not want to stick at all. Knowing how long to wait is something that comes with practice and experience, so I don't have much advice. I'm using loose silver leaf, which is far too delicate to handle with my hands, so I must use a gilder's tip brush to take the leaf from the pack, and apply it to the tank.
I then take a soft haired cosmetic brush and remove the excess leaf. Then I burnish the leaf with a cotton ball to smooth out the wrinkles, and remove any small pieces of leaf that remain. I usually take a blow gun and get all the excess leaf off the bike. You don't want any bits of loose leaf to end up in your clear coat or outline...
Now is the most fun portion of the project, spinning the leaf! I use a small battery powered drill with a spinning tool attached the the end. The spinning tool is a piece of genuine velvet wrapped around a padded head. When the spinning velvet is applied to the silver, it gently puts scratches in the leaf, which then looks like holographic swirls. This technique is normally only found on old fire trucks and lowriders. When done correctly, it's appearance is brilliant and eye catching! 
I will continue this how-to article in the next post...

1 comment:

  1. Are you using Silver leaf, white gold or aluminum?

    ReplyDelete