Gilding craft

Traditional technique: water gilding

“I have always been fascinated by gold leaves. How is it possible that such a thin leaf (about 0.1 micron) can take on the appearance of a solid gold object? I have immediately understood that the numerous steps needed to prepare the wood were crucial to fix gold leaves. “

Let’s briefly see what these various steps are.

The gilding work always starts with unfinished wood.

– The first step consists of removing grease and protecting it from insects. It is coated with a mixture of rabbit skin glue and garlic.

– The piece of work is then ready to be “whitened”. Then white stucco of Meudon and rabbit skin glue are applied, between 8 to 12 coats depending on the object.

– When the stucco is dry it must be rubbed down until it is smooth to the touch.

Then, the sculpture is given back its beauty. With the help of a metal tipped tool the moulding has to been retraced before adding the decoration (barley grains, curves, etc.).

– After it must be cleaned and smooth again. Otherwise, the slightest scuffmark would be seen when the leaf is laid down.

– Afterwards, , the background is turned yellow with a mixture of skin glue and yellow ochre. This tint will fill in the background areas where the leaf cannot got.

– After that a mixture of clay and rabbit skin glue is applied, traditionally re. This mixture will help the gold leaf settle and obtain shinny areas.

– Finally the gold leaf can be applied. Only need water is need to wet the surface to be gilded. The leaves are apllied with a gilder’s tip.

– Once dry, one burnishes (making a shiny surface by rubbing the leaf with an agate stone).
The burnished parts will become shiny and so create a subtle light effect between the mat and shiny parts of the work.

– The gold must now be protected by a thin layer of glue.

The last step consists of giving sheen to the work, providing an antique appearance, according to the client’s wish.

For the restoration of gilded wood, the missing or damaged parts are restored following the same process. The difficulty is to find the sheen on the whole work.

Mixtion: oil gilding method

This technique of mixing oil or water can gild many surfaces: plastic, resin, stone, metal, wall, glass …

I wish to apply my “savoir-faire” to produce contemporary creations.
The various gilding techniques and metals allow me to create and invent endlessly.

If you have an artistic project, feel free to contact me if you want an object to be gilded at the following adress : contact@dorure-laverriere.fr