Gilding the Final Frame

Well for starters, this may not be the final frame since I have one left and a couple of weeks to go.  There is one more frame with this profile that measures 11″ x 14″.  As far as our move goes we signed a contract to sell the Las Vegas home Saturday (6/18) so now we need to work out close of escrow dates with our, hopefully, home here in Phoenix!  I do enjoy my carving but am very ready to work on furniture again.

Last Wednesday I attended the Arizona Fine Woodworkers meeting (my third) and shared a carved and gilded frame.  There was a lot of interest in it and the process of oil gilding which most knew very little about.  The teacher in me thought that okay, this is an opportunity to share my technique!  So,  for those of you that asked about it at the meeting, here is a short video where I lay one 5″ x 5″ composition gold leaf:

The texture of the leaf looks really “funky”, my thoughts are that the reflections from the shininess of the leaf is the cause.  As always my usual disclaimer that I don’t have hi-tech equipment so the quality may not be up to par — can’t complain about the price though!   Once the entire frame has been gilded it’s time to press the leaf firmly into the size.  The old word for size is “mordant” which I kind of like the sound of!  When laying leaf you want to develop your method and stick to it, mine is to begin at a left corner and then work my way around towards the right.  This way, the overlap of one leaf to the next is consistent.  The reason that’s important is for when you press it down firmly into the mordant.  For my technique, this needs to be done from the right side towards the left to avoid lifting the overlap and possibly ripping the leaf.  A little bit of that is nice in that it shows the lay lines.  See if these pictures help explain that:

Compare what the leaf looks like in the left and right hand pictures.  Notice how it’s smoother on the right?  That’s because the leaf has been pressed firmly into the mordant with a Norton dry dust cloth.  These also have a bit of abrasiveness which begins to tone down the brassiness of the composition gold.  Once the frame has dried for a minimum of 24 hours, 4/0 Liberon, oil-free steel wool is used to eliminate the brassiness and then the frame is protected with several coats of blond shellac.  This is applied with an air brush.

My preference is to use slow-set, oil based size which this time I did in the house rather than outside on the balcony.  Here in Phoenix we’re hitting record high temps of around 120 degrees so I was concerned about the size setting up way to quickly.  For this frame, the burnisher sealer chosen was yellow, also from LA GoldLeaf.  Here are a few pictures  of the completed frame:

Now it’s a waiting game, first for the frame to cure completely prior to toning and then for the folks we’re under contract with to purchase their home to accept the time frame we need for close of escrow — good Lord willing that will all come together.


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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5 Responses to Gilding the Final Frame

  1. orepass says:

    Congrats on getting the home sold, and the frame looks great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cora Martens says:

    Hey bro, great to hear that the LV home is now in the process of being sold.  Praying the phoenix one works out! love ya,Cora

    From: Woodworks by John To: Sent: Sunday, June 19, 2016 4:33 PM Subject: [New post] Gilding the Final Frame #yiv3996926192 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3996926192 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3996926192 a.yiv3996926192primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3996926192 a.yiv3996926192primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3996926192 a.yiv3996926192primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3996926192 a.yiv3996926192primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3996926192 | woodworksbyjohn posted: “Well for starters, this may not be the final frame since I have one left and a couple of weeks to go.  There is one more frame with this profile that measures 11″ x 14″.  As far as our move goes we signed a contract to sell the Las Vegas home Saturday (6/” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob Easton says:

    Yep, congrats on getting through the home exchange without long term double mortgage payments.

    THANKS for the video! Gilding an object with so much surface variation is very much different than flat lettering on window glass. It’s good to see how you handle that. I expected to see you using a brush to press the leaf in place and was surprised to see how well plain ole fingers work.

    Yet another beautiful frame. Nicely done John!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Design & Carving Procedure for Custom Frame | Woodworks by John

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