The question in my mind was would I be able to lay the composition gold into the carvings on this waterleaf carved frame and thankfully, the answer turned out to be yes! The previous blog about this frame had to do with the layout and carving. Now I’ll talk about the gilding of it. First off, this is composition gold leaf, not precious gold that is applied through water gilding. As previously mentioned, although I’ve done some water gilding I have a problem with being too electrified and full of static so the process becomes really aggravating. Throw the cost of the material and the increased labor of applying many coats of gesso and clay and the composition gold becomes much more attractive.
I only use oil based size, I don’t have much confidence in water borne products. This is the slow-set variety so the frame was sized last night around 8:00 pm, gilding began about 12 hours later. This molding is 4-3/4″ wide so a full sheet of leaf wasn’t quite enough to go over in one pass.
Watching the video may be as exciting as watching grass grow or paint dry but a number of followers have asked about the process I use to apply composition gold to frames. Since I really can’t talk during the process let me summarize it first. Laying a full sheet of leaf (5″ square) takes some practice but if you use what I refer to as a “leaf layer” it’ll help the process. This is nothing more then a piece of 1/4″ MDF measuring 7″ square with a circular opening to make it easier to hold on to. The corners are rounded over and it’s waxed to reduce any friction. You’ll see it in use during the video.
Enjoy, let me know if you have a question. Not showcasing any videographer skills here, just the method used for laying composition gold leaf on a picture frame.
Just some thoughts on my method:
- Once the leaf is on the layer, no more breathing!
- The first step is to anchor the leaf on the inside edge, it then becomes a dance of pressing the leaf to the frame while at the same time sliding the leaf layer back. As a rule, begin on the right side of the leaf, not the left where it overlaps the previous one — you need to stick it to the frame before gently pressing it onto the size
- Control the angle of the leaf layer so you’re gently pulling the leaf down onto the frame, don’t let gravity do that for you
- It helps to have a method, mine is to start at the left side so the overlap is consistent all the way around the frame. After the entire frame is covered I now press the leaf down into the size working from the right to the left — this way you won’t lift at the overlap
- Resist the urge to press more leaf or remnants of the leaf into carved areas, you’ll find it results in an ugly build up of “scraps”.
- Corners are tricky, sometimes I’ll cut a leaf diagonally and follow the miter of the frame
- Faulting (cracks) are inevitable, pieces of leaf can be laid over larger ones and blended in with your fingers afterwards
There are two main things I do after pressing the leaf down with my fingers. The first is using a blush brush donated from Diane’s make up table! By the way, these remnants of gold leaf are called skewings. If you don’t brush them off prior to the next step they can scratch your frame.
Once those are removed my next step is using a microfibre cloth to press the leaf firmly. At the same time, any over-lapping pieces are removed as well. Now’s when I have to give my “oh too critical eye a rest!” There will be areas that faulted, areas that may have missing leaf, specks of dust, and maybe even a stray hair from the size brush. Frames are meant to look as though they’ve been around for a hundred years. There are entire books written about how to authentically age picture frames. Just pleased with the final results and after thoroughly drying it’ll be time to begin the toning process.