When the Shelburne Museum was sending the painting “Le Saumon”by Eduourd Manet out on loan, they decided that the original frame was too fragile to to travel. We were contracted to create a frame to travel with the painting. An appropriate period frame was chosen, and we finished the frame using traditional water gilding with 23k gold leaf. The frame was finished with a patina similar to the original frame.
Water gilding is the traditional gilding of wood, the basic process hasn’t changed for centuries. A thin layer of gesso, a mixture of whiting and rabbit skin glue is applied to the wood. Bole is applied, a mixture of clay and rabbit skin glue, the color of which will affect the color of the finished gilding. The bole is wet with gilder’s liquor, a combination of alcohol and water which brings the glue up to the surface of the bole. Metal leaf (most commonly gold or silver leaf) is applied using a gilder’s tip, a brush made of ox or squirrel hairs, to pick up the leaf. When dry, the leaf is burnished with an agate burnisher to achieve a mirror like finish. If a matte finish is desired the leaf is left unburnished.