Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gilding Sin City

      During the opening remarks of our meeting Jamie mentioned a really good dust mask called "Dust Be Gone"  I have one of these myself and even though they are expensive compared to the paper ones available locally, these should last forever as they are washable.  As Jamie mentioned, not only do they filter out the dust, it seems as if they are so good, the smell of the wood is removed as well.  I don't know but I kind of like the smell of wood! They claim that your safety glasses don't get fogged up but mine do, ever so slightly but usually not a real problem unless it's humid and we talked about that when I did the gilding demo -- not too often.  In any case, click here for a link to Klingspor's catalog page for the mask.
      We also discussed the yearly dues of $20.00; these should be paid by July's meeting.  The dues are used primarily to pay for the Meet Up page and we're also considering buying the domain name of Sin City Woodworkers for the club.  In case you missed it at the meeting, don't use the name of Sin City Woodworkers at this time to get a discount at Peterman lumber.  Apparently there is a business somewhere out there that used it and they are delinquent on their bills -- you may end up paying more than you want to!!  Just a preview for those of you who were unable to attend last night, Jamie has a demo set up for the next meeting that will feature a pen turner who makes some very unique pen kits.  He will be bringing in a small lathe to show how it's done.  Click HERE to visit his site and see what to expect.
     The next part of this blog may be a little difficult to write because I'm blogging on my own demonstration.  I guess that's like writing your own performance report hoping for a raise!  I'll tell you what my goal was with the demonstration and if you feel like it you can let me know if you think I accomplished it or not.  A couple of months ago my wife and I went to the Scottsdale Artist School to take workshops.  A well known figurative artist (John Michael Carter) and his wife (Barbara) taught them. Diane, being the artist, took his and I took Barbara's to learn about the fine art of water gilding.  I wanted to share what I learned there with our group.
     I talked about the two main ways  to gild; oil and water, and for most of the work members in our group may do the oil gilding process is the easiest and probably sufficient.  We talked about the materials needed (which can be bought for less than $30.00) and applications we could use for our work such as  moldings on cabinets, decorative panels in boxes, carvings, deep grained woods, etc.  I had a prepared demonstration board and showed how to gild using the composition gold and also silver. Several members were really interested in the variegated composition leaf which is available at Dick Blick here in Las Vegas. Then we got to the fun stuff if you're process driven person like me!  I think it was agreed that this is not for the impatient.
      Water gilding is using genuine gold leaf, 22kt. in this case, and through many steps applying it to whatever it is you want to gild.  I discussed the materials and showed samples of them, the cost of the materials, and also the time and methods used to prepare your wood for the actual gilding.

The first step is to remove the leaf of gold from your book and place it on the gilders pad.  Everyone kindly held their breath so it wouldn't blow away and it stayed in place on the pad much to my relief and surprise.  This pad is basically a piece of deer skin attached to a board with a light layer of foam in between.  I think it provides some tooth for the leaf to stick to,

Once the leaf was cut with a gilders knife you use a gilders tip (usually made from squirrel hair) to place it on the board.  A very small amount of vaseline is applied to the tip to hold the leaf and also to counteract the lack of humidity.  That is our enemy!!  I've brushed on the gilders liquor which is a combination of denatured alcohol and distilled water.  This reactivates the gelatin glue that was in the clay.

After the sample board was gilded and the liquor had a chance to evaporate off, you use cotton balls to tamp the leaf into place.  You have to be sure keep the cotton dry because if it gets any moisture on it  you may pull off the gold as I inadvertently demonstrated.

     The last step is to use an agate or "hounds tooth"  to burnish the gold.  Luckily the lack of humidity allowed me to demonstrate that before the meeting ended.  Contrary to what most folks think, you're not polishing the gold at this point, instead you are pressing it into the clay which is what makes it shine like only genuine gold can.  

     All in all, I think the demonstration and discussion went well and I hope I gave you something to think about adding to your work.  If you added some gilded details to your moldings or carvings it would set your work apart from others.  I mentioned the compo material and some seemed interested in that as well.  That's an excellent way to add the look of carved details to your work without actually carving.  I have quite a bit of composition gold leaf and if any of you want more information or some hand's on experience with it let me know and we'll see if we can get together.  There were a lot of questions at the end and I answered them to the best of my knowledge but, like it says on those warning labels:

                                                       "Try first in an Inconspicuous Spot". 

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