Gold on the Leaf Motif Frame

If you read my last post the first carved frame of the Scottsdale adventure was ready for the gilding step.  I use composition gold which I like to refer to as Dutch Gold because of my heritage.  However; Diane feels this term is somewhat derogative and gives a cheap connotation to the process.  Since I want to market frames I’ll try to add the term, composition gold to my vocabulary instead.  Although I’ve done 22 karat gold leaf using the traditional water gilding method it gives me a lot of trouble!  I seem to have more than the normal amount of static electricity so the gold leaf just wraps around the gilders tip most of the time!  I’ve tried all the tricks, anti-static mats, anti-static gloves, standing on wet newspapers, humidifiers, etc. to no avail.  Add the cost of the materials and the additional labor of mixing and applying multiple coats of gesso and clay and I’m somewhat resigned to using only the composition gold.  All that being said, I’d love to take a traditional water gilding class from Charles Douglas up in Seattle to see if the humidity there would be beneficial to eliminate some of the static problems I have — maybe my next adventure!


Sizing Studio?

Sizing Studio?

The mailman brought  the slow set size from LA Gold Leaf Thursday so I applied a thin coat last night.  Needless to say, the conditions were less than ideal as this photo shows.  This is the  balcony of our apartment so wanting to have adequate ventilation decided this is where the process should take place. Winds were calm so not overly concerned about the dust, I moved the box and frame into the storage area you see behind the box.  I had lights on in there, the balcony light, plus the two rooms that face the balcony as well.  Just hoped I had adequate coverage of the size — always hard to tell in poor light.  Since the oil size needs about 10-12 hours to reach the proper tack, early morning laying of the leaf was on the schedule.

On the Way!

On the Way!

The workbench proved to be just the right height for gilding, I like the work to be slightly above my waist for this task.  It usually takes me a few sheets of gold to “get into the zone”.  Since this molding is modified from Diane’s custom design a full sheet of the composition gold covers all but the last half inch of the side.  I was more than pleased with how the leaf went into the carving.  This was the unknown, how deep could I carve and get the leaf down into it without cracking.

Molding Profile

Molding Profile


The profile of the molding looked like this before carving.  That very pronounced ridge going into the cove needed to be tapered down before the leaf motif was carved.


Close Up of Gilded Corner

Close Up of Gilded Corner

In this close up, you can probably see how that was accomplished.  Next up is toning the frame and knocking down the glare of the composition gold — it just doesn’t compare to 22kt. gold but we’ve already discussed that!  Since you really can’t burnish composition materials, that was done first on the yellow burnisher/sealer. After at least 24 hours to ensure that the oil size is completely dry it’ll be time to knock down the brightness of the leaf.  For that I use 4/0, oil-free Liberon steel wool only.  I’m going to experiment a bit on this frame and knock down the panel, outer edge, and sides only leaving the ribbon and the carving as is.  This is followed by a couple of coats of clear shellac that is sprayed on.  I’ll wait until Monday morning to do that, not too sure how the other tenants near me will like the smell of shellac in the morning.  Waiting till Monday rather than tomorrow (Sunday) gives me a better chance of not having too many folks around that may complain about the smell!  I purchased a small, quiet compressor just for this purpose so anxious to see how it’ll perform.  My shop Porter Cable pancake is way too noisy for apartment living.   My plan is to make a series of pictures of the frame showing its progression from the bright gold it is now to (hopefully) a toned down version ready for someones painting.


About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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1 Response to Gold on the Leaf Motif Frame

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