Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bill Adair at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art!

The Ancient Craft of Gilding, Taught at Gold Leaf Studios

Did you know that in addition to frame and mirror conservation, custom frame fabrication, gilding, and fine art sales, we hold gilding workshops at Gold Leaf Studios?

The workshops are held periodically, and are either one or two days long.  Attendees come to our studio near Dupont Circle and spend the day with Bill Adair, master gilder and owner of Gold Leaf Studios.  They learn how to gild a hand-joined frame from start to finish using a technique known as water gilding.   The classes also feature lessons in the simpler technique of oil gilding.

Depending on the format and length of the workshop, attendees silk, gesso, sand, prepare, and water gild frames with genuine 22 karat gold.  They also design patterns that they then etch into the gold leaf and burnish.

Ornamental leaf and flower Design by Bernard Badura (1896 – 1986)

The materials used in these classes are the same as those that have been used by gilders since the Renaissance and before, and include gesso, rabbit skin glue, and genuine 22 karat gold leaf.  Students utilize the Studio’s vast collection of traditional tools and brushes in the process, including agate stones to burnish the gold, and brushes made from the hair of squirrels, badgers, and sables to lay the leaves of gold on the frames.

A participant lays the gold leaf on her frame with a special brush, or "gilder's tip."

In our work for clients, we use these same materials as well as many other ancient formulas and ingredients that sound like they are out of a fairy tale, such as gamboge, casein, dragon’s blood, agate stone, rouge, and glue made from the bladder of a sturgeon fish!

A student applies various materials to create an "antique" patina on his frame.

The workshops are open to anyone who is interested in learning the craft of gilding. There is a fee for the class to cover the materials, but you get to take your gilded frame home with you and keep it as a trophy of your accomplishments.  Stay tuned to this blog, where we will announce our next workshop!