Bernacki & Associates, Inc.  - Gilding
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Services >> Gilding

Gilding can be described as the covering of a base
or common material with a layer of gold.
This layer is achieved through the application of
gold leaf to an adhesive which has been applied to
the surface to be gilded. It must be noted that
there are other, lesser materials used to achieve
a gilt surface. Composition leaf which is composed of copper and tin can be used. Just as
well, bronze and mica powders mixed in a binder
can make a ‘gold’ paint. These surfaces, while
capable of being very attractive will never achieve
the look of true gold leaf. They will also tarnish
and discolor with age, never developing a patina.

There are two primary techniques used in gold
leafing, oil gilding and water gilding.

Oil gilding can provide a beautiful surface coating
of matte gold. The process is quicker and less
labor intensive than water gilding. In many
situations it is as durable as water gilding and
uses the same gold. Oil gilding must be applied
to a completely sealed surface. First an oil size
is applied to the surface. Sizes are now made of
many different materials but most commonly are
a boiled linseed oil. The applied oil is allowed to
dry (oxidize) in a dust free environment until the
proper tackiness is achieved. Then the gold leaf
is applied.

A basic definition of water gilding would be
a porous substrate (typically wood), covered with
gesso (usually a mix of calcium carbonate and
animal hide glue), covered with bole (a mixture
of clay and animal or fish based glues),
and covered with a layer of gold leaf held to the
bole by organic animal or fish based glues.
This golden surface can then be left matte or
burnished to a mirror-like sheen. Water gilding
is typically much more labor intensive than oil
gilding but is also capable of achieving a more
refined surface and sheen. Consequently it
has been reserved for more expensive objects
which are seen and experienced at more
intimate distances. [Excerpt from The Art of
Gilding
by Bart Bjorneberg. Click here to read
the full article.]


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Bernacki & Associates, Inc. -  Application of gesso to areas of loss Bernacki & Associates, Inc. -  Burnishing to gold to high luster

Application of gesso to areas of loss


Burnishing to gold to high luster
Bernacki & Associates, Inc. -  Gilded frame before treatment Bernacki & Associates, Inc. -  Gilded frame after treatment

Frame before and after treatment


424 N. Oakley Boulevard, Chicago IL 60612, Tel: 312-243-5669, Fax: 312-243-3573, stan@bernackiconservation.com

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