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Aug 2nd – Gilding – Lynda Clark

5 August, 2010

Gilding is the process of applying very thin gold leaf and burnishing it to give a long lasting decorative highlight to the whole or more usually part of a piece of work. The process is thousands of years old and was used by monks to embellish lettering in books which were, at that time, hand written. Lynda has a diploma in calligraphy and some examples of her work were on display including the Lord’s Prayer which she did for her diploma.

She naturally thought of applying her gilding skill as a decoration to turned wooden items and tonight she kindly introduced us to the process with an opportunity to have a go ourselves.

The leaf comes in delicate sheets on a backing film and must be cut with very clean scissors. A dirty cutting edge will stick to the gold and tear it from the film. The area to which the leaf is to be applied is first treated with a pva type glue. The alternative of an oil based glue is in some ways easier but the gold cannot then be burnished. The prepared surface is activated by water vapour in the breath by “huffing” on it before applying pressing the cut piece of leaf into place and peeling off the backing film. This is much easier said than done and our members found it is a skill that must be acquired through probably a lot of practice.

Lynda also spoke about applying gilt via gesso. This is made into a thick paste and applied to the work surface to give an added dimension like embossed lettering. Lynda had use it to good effect on an oak burr to fill a small hole to apply gold leaf to the area. The process of making gesso is long and complicated but it can be bought already prepared in small pieces which can be ground and mixed to a paste. The gesso incorporates glue so once applied it is activated by the huffing method.

The Club had provided starter kits for those trying their hand on the night and it will be interesting to see what results in future members galleries or even the new “Challenge” in October.

Thanks Lynda for a gilt-edged presentation.

Written by Dave Gibbard

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