The Gilding Process

Step 1

We joined the frames with biscuits and we hold them with the pointed spring clamps.

Step 2

Antonio prepares his surface using gesso,
a plaster mix of chalk whiting, and rabbit
skin glue. This element stands on a
container and the temperature must be
between 60 and 70°C at the time of application.
Water gilding is the traditional art treatment of
wood and also applied to antique furniture.
The application of Gesso to a wooden frame
achieves a very smooth surface and is
necessary if we want to apply a gold leaf
over the frame.

Step 3

After sanding the frame carefully,
the following procedure will require
between 4 to 6 coats of the clay-based
bole to be carefully applied.
Once the bole has dried it would have the
correct level of absorbency for the
Water Gilding process.
To guarantee a perfect surface finish,
the dry bole is then meticulously smoothened
with a fine steel wool.

Step 4

Antonio carefully places the fine wafers
of 23-Carat Gold leaf on a Gilders cushion
where it is flattened.

Step 5

And carefully cut to the required sizes.

Step 6

The bole is now moistened with water and
brandy, the brandy acts as a form of evaporation.

Step 7

Antonio picks the Gold leaf from the gilders cushion.

Step 8

Once the surface is moistened, Antonio gently
places the Gold Leaf into the frame using
a squirrel-hair brush.

Step 9

Burnishing. Initially the Gold leaf has a
dull appearance. To ensure the leaf is
properly pressed and polished into the
corners of the moulding, a burnishing tool
tipped with agate is used.
Agate is unique to the Water Gilder,
as it does not disturb the Gold.

Step 10

Distressing
Distressing is a process of lightly rubbing the burnished
surface of the gilt with fine steel wool. This removes
some of the Gold leaf and reveals the underneath
colour of the bole.

Water Gilding - An Ancient Technique

Water Gilding is an ancient technique which has been passed on for thousands of years.

This application of precious metals has the ability to enhance the appearance of objects of art and dates back to the earliest civilisations.

This very old method of applying gold leaves is an art form as much as it is a process.

Done only by hand, Water Gilding produces a splendour and richness unmatched by any other method of gilding.

The tools and equipment used in this discipline have remained the same for centuries.