Gilding, the decorative aplication of metal leaf to surfaces, using the techniques of oil gilding or water gilding. Oil gilding uses oil size to glue the leaf to any surface that can be painted. All varieties of leaf can be used, including the cheaper leaves such as fake gold and aluminium. This process is often used architecturally where water gilding would be too expensive and time consuming. Water gilding is an extremely ancient craft, going back to early Egyptian times. It is the craft that I started with and gives me great pride as it is a highly skilled craft. The process involves building up upto fifteen coats of gesso, made up of rabbit skin glue and whiting brushed on warm, onto wood or plaster. This is then rubbed down and if finely carved, recarved to put the detail back in. Onto this surface is brushed up to six coats of bole, a fine slip clay that is mixed with more size or gelatin. The bole is rubbed down with extra fine paper. The leaf is placed gently onto a puddle of water on the bole, keeping the wet edge going. The next day the bole is burnished through the leaf using shaped and polished agate stones. The end result is a polished metal surface, which when distressed shows the coloured bole and the overlaps of the leaf. The only leaf that can be used is silver and gold and the alloys of them, giving a range of silver and gold colours
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