Street musical organ restoration #1: Restoration of a water gilded surface

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Blog entry by goldenhands posted 01-14-2009 12:56 PM 2974 reads 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Street musical organ restoration series no next part

Here is my blog for you guys.
There is one element I took as an example.

Absolutely the same procedure with all 33 elements and 4 large parts of the Organ. The size of this element is about 600×600 mm.
Well must mention that a microscopic analysis has been taken in order to identify all the materials and layers.
So now I got the full picture of how and what needed to be done.
First of all the old gesso must be cleaned of (using warm water). Why because it won’t work with a newly made one. It will crack sooner or later.
Then details:

And another one:

Then the surface must be sealed with a thin glue (rabbit skin), the gesso was made (using spanish white and rabbit glue). The recipe is a pain. Get one and always follow it using digital scales. One small mistake all your work is gone and have to do it again – not a pleasant experience.
Application of a new gesso 1st coat:

And the 20th, yea needed to be 20 very thin ones: (wet on wet only)

Then cleaning the waste of the gesso: (after)

Before sanding:

Then sanding with 600 grit paper. After sanding:

Now it is all white:

Bole, making and applying: (dry on dry only) the same 18 – 20 coats

Now white become black:

Before sanding: (this is where the magic begins, because normally gilders never sanding the bole)

After sanding: (1200 grit)

Other detail:

Now the gilding:

Brushing off:


Now all the burnished gilding is done.
The painting and the matt gilding application: (also water based, not oil):


Now silvering: (also water based)


Now the distressing using rotten stone powder:

Then lacquering:

So this is very briefly it. I did not mentioned techniques and recipes and still have about 80 more photos to show. Which all is going to be published in ‘Step by step manual’ hope this year.
If the photos did not come up well and out of the center – really sorry, tried to change size and everything.
If need an advice or help do write will answer.

One more thing, strongly recommend do not under take such project like this in your own, it might brake you, mine is still trying. Do not know who is stronger my patience or its silence.

-- The way I work - the way I live. goldenhands

17 comments so far

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 4988 days

#1 posted 01-14-2009 04:26 PM


-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5208 days

#2 posted 01-14-2009 05:33 PM

Great blog. I just learned more about than I ever knew.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View lew's profile


13428 posts in 5001 days

#3 posted 01-14-2009 06:05 PM

This is Extraordinary!!

I cannot begin to imagine the knowledge, talent and patience that you must have.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5309 days

#4 posted 01-14-2009 07:11 PM

Thank you so much for posting this follow up. Your patience, persistance and artistry are remarkable beyond words. The world does not breed artisans like you anymore. You are to be commended, and thanked.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Chips's profile


199 posts in 4958 days

#5 posted 01-14-2009 07:15 PM

Thanks, I love your work.

-- Make every day the best day of your life. Chips, Mississippi

View goldenhands's profile


142 posts in 4785 days

#6 posted 01-14-2009 09:13 PM

Thank you very much guys!
Glad that you like it, hope it helps you to try the gilding yourself.
If any questions, please do ask.

-- The way I work - the way I live. goldenhands

View mtnwild's profile


4461 posts in 4773 days

#7 posted 02-25-2009 07:41 PM

You are crazy patient. Just found your blog and cannot believe your project. One little piece takes that much work! I saw the organ and it’s a good thing you are young, lol, looks like a life project to me. I’ll say it does look worth it, will be a treasure when it’s done. Amazing!

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4688 days

#8 posted 02-26-2009 04:17 AM

Wonderful to see an old art form still being practiced and with such skill. I hope I get to see the book.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5406 days

#9 posted 02-26-2009 05:14 PM

holymoly this is amazing!!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View woodchic's profile


841 posts in 4603 days

#10 posted 07-01-2009 11:38 PM

Amaziing…..............I could learn alot from you! Your work is inspiring.

Robin Renee’


-- Robin Renee'

View goldenhands's profile


142 posts in 4785 days

#11 posted 07-02-2009 12:29 PM

Thank you very much for your replyes.
I do hope that it won’t be my life project (last one), relly would like to make or restore something else after this one :).

-- The way I work - the way I live. goldenhands

View topher's profile


15 posts in 4499 days

#12 posted 08-05-2009 04:57 AM

you are very patient..very talented-

-- learning, building, playing

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4823 days

#13 posted 08-05-2009 05:10 AM

fantastic work they look fabulous


View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4821 days

#14 posted 09-06-2009 05:14 AM

Somehow saying the difference from fist to last photo is like “night and day” just doesn’t encompass the transformation you’ve achieved.
You have about 50 years talent packed in to your 31 year old body!

View JennyfromCanada's profile


8 posts in 4370 days

#15 posted 11-12-2009 04:15 AM

You are a very special man with extreme talent…as written above, ’’the world does not breed artisans like you anymore….’’ Well that is most certainly true. You have passion that I have not seen ever before.

I remember the piece you worked on in High Wycombe and remember I interviewed you about it for my project! Ha! I was so nervous going up there to your work bench to sit with you!! I’m so glad now that I did that (((O: It is very nice you have posted on here your work to share with all of us xooxxo

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