And, that’s really not a good thing! Yesterday morning this frame was gilded along with a short section of the molding that will be used to see how the different toning affects may look. If you’re unfamiliar with what’s commonly referred to as oil gilding this process begins with sealing the wood to eliminate any wood grain telegraphing through the leaf. That’s another reason for using a wood such as Basswood since besides holding carving details quite well, its’ grain is pretty nondescript. For the sake of comparison, when using 22kt gold leaf that is referred to as water gilding. That process is much more involved and consequently much more expensive. For it you need to brush on many layers of gesso which is basically a chalk and rabbit skin glue mixture. With the oil gilding process this is simplified with the application of a single layer of what’s called a burnisher/sealer. This is heavily pigmented and burnished with oil free steel wool prior to laying on the composition gold leaf.
Since my client requested a lighter frame than what he sent a picture of, it seemed best to use a yellow burnisher/sealer. I did a test sample with the red burnisher/sealer but didn’t care for how it showed through the inevitable faulting of the leaf. Notice that plastic bag next to the frame? That’s something new I’m trying from Lee Valley, called a finish storage bag. Instead of having the air in a typical paint can react and skin over the finish with this you can squeeze out all the air and then cap it off. My only complaint is that it’s a two person job — couldn’t maintain pressure on the bag and twist the cap on once all the air was out. In any case, oil size is ready for leafing after 10-12 hours so susceptible to dust landing on it. This is a simple PVC frame with Kraft Paper over it to eliminate the dust problem as much as possible. After the frame was completely gilded you need to wait 24 hours for the size to be completely cured. At this point it’s pretty darn brassy and bright as the picture on the left shows. The initial step to knocking this down is to burnish it lightly with 4/0 steel wool then air brush on a few coats of shellac. My preference for the steel wool is Liberon since it is completely oil free and for shellac I mix mine up fresh with flakes purchased from Shellac.Net. These need to be de-waxed and for this frame, super platinum. Note the difference in the frames appearance, freshly gilded on the left and burnished/shellacked on the right.
Toning will take place after Christmas but the frame will be ready to go to its new home in New Jersey before the years end.
Speaking of appearances, I’ve been in the process of re-vamping my website with Diane’s’ help. When it comes to woodwork, teaching, or running ultra-marathons I have tons of patience. Throw a computer into the mix and that seems to vanish! In Las Vegas much of my work was through word of mouth and recommendations from my clients. Establishing myself here in Phoenix will require some work. I’d been told that my website portfolio was hard to find and navigate so Diane has been working to make that easier. Rather than having a separate page for chairs, tables, picture frames, boxes, etc. she has created one portfolio page. On it will be a representation of my work broken down into a few categories. The category completed so far is the custom furniture. The tab at the top of the site says Woodworking Portfolio. This WordPress site lets you create a tiled mosaic which to my eye, looks more interesting than a bunch of pictures all laid out in columns. If you have the time and inclination I would like to hear your feedback about how it looks to you. Now that Diane has helped by setting this up it’s now up to me to organize the rest of the portfolio page.
Thanks for following my blog and your feedback,
Here’s wishing all of you:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Great looking frame! … as expected, and the process notes are well appreciated.
On the gallery: Yes, I like the “mosaic” presentation. It breaks the grid mold and keeps the images interesting. Have you considered linking some of those images to the blog articles about the objects? Other makers, and maybe some potential customers might appreciate knowing more about how something was made. In any case, it looks great.
Merry Christmas to you and Diane!
Thanks for your input Bob, I’d thought a little about that linking blogs but may complicate the site. When I get an inquiry about my work I do reference blogs or past work that applies. Looking forward to getting the shop up par, still feeling like a “visitor” in a new place!
Coming back months later… because I like your gilding work …and because I’m looking for a good US-based gilding supplies supplier. Who do you like for not only gold leaf, but also the rest of the tools and materials you use?
Hi Bob, I’ve been using LA Gold Leaf: https://www.lagoldleafus.com It’s been quite some time since I ordered the leaf since when I bought got a good supply, same with my tools — have had them forever and got them from Sepp Leaf as I recall. I used to use Rolco brand burnisher/sealer and their sizes but can’t find them any more so have been using LA Gold Leaf’s proprietary sizes and sealers and like them a lot.
I’ve been rewatching your gilding articles … and learning. While following up with the LA Gold supplier you mentioned (I’ve also bought from GildedPlanet) I discovered that imitation leaf is 6.5 time thicker than 23K real gold leaf. My current challenge is keeping wood grain from telegraphing through the leaf, by experimenting with how many coats of burnish sealer to use. Then it strikes me … use thicker leaves. Doh!
Thanks again for all the subtle lessons.
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Hmmm, 6.5 times thicker and way less expensive. Of course, you can’t get the richness of 23K with the composition leaf but at this point in our budget it’s all good! Be interested in seeing how your work is coming out.