New Gold Leaf Studios website unveiled!

Our completely redesigned website just went live!

Click the link in our blog roll and let us know what you think!

Gold Leaf Studios at the National Building Museum!

Gold Leaf Studios and Bill Adair himself will be at the National Building Museum’s The Big Build tomorrow!  The Big Build, formerly known as the Festival of the Building Arts, is a hands-on event when children and adults alike can try their hands at bricklaying, woodworking, surveying, GILDING, etc.  More information is below, and we hope that you will stop by!

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!

Wordless Wednesday: Around the Studio

Relaunching soon!

We will be relaunching the Gold Leaf Studios blog in the next month, and you will begin to see posts about current projects, educational and outreach activities, behind-the-scenes photos from the studio, and our gallery.  Stay tuned!

Gold Leaf Studios: About Us, About Our Blog

Gold Leaf Studios is a traditional workshop using techniques and materials as they always have been used on the finest handmade gilded objects. Under the direction of William Adair, we have offered gilding and frame related services to private collectors, museums, and designers for over twenty years.

Our carvers, gilders, and finishers are master craftsmen able to repair irreplaceable frames, to reproduce historically accurate period frames, and to create original, contemporary designs. We maintain museum standards of matting and mounting to protect and enhance artworks on paper. Special treatments include French mats, wrapped silk mats, gilded bevels, and églomisé.

This blog will provide a peek into the inner workings of Gold Leaf Studios; join us as we share jobs we are particularly proud of, tips on preserving your frames for posterity, and historical information.

To contact us, please visit our website,, or give us a call at (202) 833-2440.