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About Gilding | Jill London

The Art of Gilding has been a well known trade for centuries. The history of using gold leaf to decorate and embellish surfaces is one of the oldest professions known to mankind. As soon as people discovered gold,they began using it as a form of illumination. It was discovered that by annealing , or heating, the gold and beating it one could take this precious metal and make gold leaf. Gold leaf is a material that can be attached to a sold object and transform the object into an appearance of solid gold.

Traditional Water gilding, oil and mordant gilding, manuscript illumination, verrre églomisé, sign and glass gilding are all different catogories in the gilding trade. Each discipline in the gilding arts has specific techniques and methods. Water gilding is an extremely labor intensive process. Traditional Water Gilding is created on a wood structure. The wood is sealed and then several coats of gesso (made of rabbit skin glue and chalk) are applied to the surface. Once dry, the gesso is then sanded and many coats of thinned bole (clay) are applied. When the bole is dry, the gold leaf is applied using liquor (made of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol) floated all over the surface of the bole. The gold leaf is dropped by a tip onto the surface of the liquor and then it stabilizes onto the surface. Once dry, the gold leaf can be burnished with and agate to reach the desired brilliance. The leaf can then be rubbed, sealed, toned and or given an antique finish depening upon the desired treatrment.

Jill London has specialized in traditional water gilding and was an apprentice with Artist and framemaker, Robert Kulicke of NY. After the traditional apprenticeship she started her own business working on gilded frames and objects. She also works with non-traditional materials in the conservation of gilded objects. Over the years, her skills have developed and led her to work with Artists, Collectors, Picture Frame Shops, Museums and Galleries. During this time, Jill London has also trained several apprentices and taught gilding classes in both the public and private sector.

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