Kölner Gilding Workshop

A little while ago I attended a Kölner gilding workshop run by Gold Leaf Supplies, the UK distributor of the Kölner range, and Richard Walker at Watergild Studios. I got to see first hand how quick and easy it is to use and how impressive the results can be.


Kölner offer products for gilding on a wide range of surfaces, such as stone, ceramic and paper. Personally, I was very impressed with the Miniatum, which is used to apply gold to a flexible surface! The example in the workshop was applying to plastic and then being able to stretch the plastic without damaging the gold – It was like a magic trick! What was really impressive was the use of gold leaf on silk brought in by fellow attendee Rosie.

Gilded mask – Gilded by Rosie Ellis-Unwin / Quilted by Pascale Michalski

At A.S Handover we stock the Kölner Instacoll – a two-part system consisting of a base size and an activator. Instacoll is suitable for internal or external use, and can be used on almost any surface as long as it is properly prepared, it can also be used on glass.

Photo by Akari Hori

The Instacoll Base Size is applied first using a synthetic brush, it is best applied generously and evenly. I learned quickly not to go over the same area with the brush too much as it starts to dry and you end up dragging brush marks though it! You need the base to look smooth and glossy if you want to get an impressive mirror sheen on the finished piece.

After an hour you can start to gild without the addition of the activator, you have about another hour of working time. If left longer than this you will need to apply the activator thinly using a cotton rag. Once the activator is dry you can begin to gild using transfer leaf (for loose leaf the process is a little different) the size will stay open for about an hour, after this you can reapply activator as many times as you need to finish the job and you can ‘activate’ the base up to 6 months after the first application!

Kölner have also created an ‘Instacoll Tissue’ – a sort of microfibre cloth that is used to press the gold onto the surface you are gilding, it was very impressive how much shine was achieved in an instant!

It was such a fun day, and so great to be experimenting with alternative gilding products.

Click here to see the Instacol on our website, we will be expanding our Kölner range very soon!