Gilding on a wooden carved frame

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Project by Patricelejeune posted 04-10-2013 05:48 PM 3032 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A year ago one of our clients sponsored our business Antique Refinishers in San Diego to sent me to learn gilding.
Coming back form Portland, Oregon where I learn with Nancy Thorn I started on a restoration on a frame from our client.

The mirror had been “restored” with gold paint over the giding on 50% of the frame.
After cleaning the paint I saw the frame needed re gilding.

After striping the whiting is applied, it is a mix of rabbit skin glue, water and calcium carbonate.
After several layer the Whiting is water sanded or leveled with a damp rag.
On top of the whiting you apply the bole made of clay, rabbit skin glue and water.
Yellow ocre first, it will hide some of the gold cracking in the recess.

Next step is to put the colored bole if any. In that case it is an italian red.

Next step is actually the gilding. To make gold leaf, the gold has been hammered down until it is so thin you can see light through the leaf. The leaves are extremely fragile on top of being extremely expensive.

The surface is just wet with a brush called a mop, the water reactivate the stickiness of the glue and the clay.

The gold leaf is then applied held by static electricity and a tiny bit of vaseline or sweat on a squirrel gilder brush and is literally sucked down by the water.

The best is to get the cat to help you to push the gold in place

The next step is to burnish the area where you want the gold to be really bright and shiny with an agate stone burnisher, in this case the all mirror. Different agate shapes are required .

Then depending on the client, more or less ware on the high points, more or less bings and bangs, and more or less patina. For this client, a lot of ware and heavy patina.

Here are finally the final pictures. it does not do exactly justice to the mirror, there is more of a subtle shine on the gold surface.

-- Patrice lejeune

7 comments so far

View IndianJoe's profile


425 posts in 3537 days

#1 posted 04-10-2013 06:10 PM

That’s a lot of nice work don’t thank I will try that for a long time the work you did is out of this world vary nice

-- Nimkee** Joe

View Vintagetoni's profile


58 posts in 3981 days

#2 posted 04-10-2013 06:13 PM

Totally awesome restoration! Thank you for sharing these steps!

-- toni --- SW WI...working on shop setup....wish I could say diligently. "Time is a healer, a friend & a maker of dreams."

View shipwright's profile


8760 posts in 4086 days

#3 posted 04-10-2013 07:18 PM

I just couldn’t come up with a comment on your last two Patrice. (not my preference you know :-) but I can certainly appreciate this one. What a huge job!

I’m thinking the cat would help to generate the static electric charge in the brush, n’est-ce pas.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3208 days

#4 posted 04-10-2013 09:20 PM

Those are the 2 sides of the coin when you train in an Arts and Crafts school, like Ecole Boulle, you are trained to be an artisan and an artist, designer. I am lucky enough to be able to do a little bit of each, though not a lot of furniture design those last years…

-- Patrice lejeune

View justoneofme's profile


862 posts in 3768 days

#5 posted 04-11-2013 06:32 AM

Fascinating!!l … Thanks for showing all the intricate steps necessary, and working with the gold leaf Patrice! I’ve read up on the procedure, but this was far better! Not only was your ‘helper’ helping, but definitely admiring your attention to detail. The end result looks absolutely beautiful!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3463 days

#6 posted 04-12-2013 08:43 PM

Wow! That’s a lot of hard work and patience. You did an excellent job on restoring that majestic piece.

View Patricelejeune's profile


386 posts in 3208 days

#7 posted 04-25-2013 07:02 PM

Thank you for your once again very nice comments.

I shall always add the post Patrick Edwards, my partner at Antique Refinishers do as they are more complete, and more interesting to read. Here is his blog entry on the subject.

-- Patrice lejeune

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