For this frame I decided to use a gilding technique where planed wood is directly oil gilded without the wood being sealed. I wrote an article about this and was honored to have it published in the August 2011 issue of Professional Picture Framers magazine! It was titled “A Whistler-Inspired Gilded Oak Frame” and in it I discussed my way of replicating one of James Whistlers technique. It worked out well on Oak, not so well on Basswood, but the finish on Walnut was more to my liking.
Of course, photographs rarely do justice to the real thing but there is lots of texture in Diane’s painting. She wanted a frame that also had texture plus the coloration of her work. Since it is more of a contemporary painting she also requested a floater style frame. The painting is done on a 1/4″ Baltic Birch panel so to make it work for a floater the first step was to glue an additional rim of plywood to the backside of the painting. This gave enough thickness to screw it to the frame. That rim is inset which created what I’m calling a “double float” since it raises the painting up from the black floater section. A simple rub glue joint is used to attach the rim to the back of the painting.
Walnut was chosen for its’ dark rich browns and some reddish hues. As a furniture builder I prefer planed surfaces rather than sanded ones, planing opens the grain whereas sanding tends to abrade it — there is a difference! The painting measures 14″ x 18″ and the frame members are 1 1/4″ thick by 2″ wide. The outside edge has a chamfer planed on it which I wanted to leave solidly gilded. You can see it on the right edge in the picture above.
Let’s talk about making it. That process began with 8/4 Walnut that was planed and ripped to the needed size. A groove was plowed with the Veritas small plow plane, the location is determined by where you want the painting to be inside of the floater. I prefer it to sit just slightly below the surface of the frame. This groove is about 3/8″ deep and the next step was to glue in the Birch plywood that becomes the floater section; easy to “gang clamp” them as you can see.
The floater section was painted with Japan Black which is “dead flat”. Once dry the frame members were mitered, slotted for a biscuit, and then glued and clamped overnight. My preference is to use slow set size on everything, in my experience the quick set doesn’t have as strong of an adhesive quality. I get mine from LA Gold Leaf, it has a good consistency and working time. Generally a frame will be sized around 7:00 pm or so and then gilded the next morning. Of course, the black section of the frame is taped off while applying the size but removed immediately once sizing is complete. Gilding is pretty straight forward, it’s the rubbing back of the gold that is nerve wracking — real easy to go too far!
The rubbing back process is done with a white Scotch pad and Liberon Black Bison wax. Once the finish is taken back to my liking, a cotton ball is used to apply an additional coat of the wax. After drying the entire frame is buffed. The wax will be sufficient to seal the gold and prevent any tarnishing in the future. This is one of three paintings that Diane had accepted into the 8th. annual Portrait Artists of Arizona show. The show has 59 paintings and is currently hung at the Scottsdale Artists School. It will be open for viewing from January 6 through the 27th. with the reception and awards presentation scheduled for January 13, 2018 from 2-4:00 pm. The majority of the works will be for sale and the public is invited to view the show any time that the school is open.