Practitioners of the medieval art of alchemy strove to transform lead into gold. While they were unable to prove and repeat this ambitious process, they did perfect the art of gilding – a practice of decorating gold or metal objects with a thin layer of gold-leaf that dates back to the Ancient Egyptians.
Today, people use similar techniques to beautify all sorts of objects. For this particular project, Kate Wood – owner of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers – first repaired and then oil-gilded an ornate antique frame in 22-karat yellow gold leaf. We hope you enjoy viewing these photos of a miraculous transformation!
The Painstaking Gilding Process
The frame shown had been stored in a humid environment and flood-damaged, which caused the plaster foundation that holds the ornament to the wood to fail throughout the frame.
The first step Kate took was to run her hands over the entire frame surface to located all loose ornament and glue it back into place before any more of this already damaged frame could be lost. Because there was no comparable ornament, the corner shown in this example could not be molded and had to be hand-carved by Kate before gilding.
The result was a fully restored gilt frame with an authentic finish.
When oil gilding, the surface is primed with paint to seal the pores and provide a smooth non-porous surface to which a type of slow-drying oil can be applied. This oil provides an adhesive surface for the gold leaf.
After gilding, the gold is typically toned down to create an antiqued finish matching the tastes and preferences of the client. For example, to emphasize three-dimensional depth, a light brushing of artist’s oils in sienna and burnt umber (e.g., Japan Colors) could be applied to the recesses to add shadow and warmth.
Contact Alchemy: If you own an object in need of professional attention, make an appointment with Alchemy Fine Art Restorers in Stuart, FL. Estimates are always free and we even provide local pickup and delivery!
Owner: Kate Wood; Phone: (772) 287-0835; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.