Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vintage Victorian Gilded Letter

In response to requests for my gilding method, I am posting this step by step procedure while I flat gild my Victorian Letter V. It will give you a sneak peak at my next Enchanted Letter.
Flat gilding is easier than raised gilding. If I were to raise gild a piece, I would use a traditional gesso for the gold size that I make myself. That procedure is a bit more involved so I thought I would begin with an easy and virtually fail proof flat gilding method. This morning' s process began with the underdrawing of the letter. I have been spending time with the Ames Compendium this week which worked out perfectly for the Victorian V. I penciled the shape of the V and the meandering ribbon and then went directly to ink for the flourishes and florals. This letter will only have slight hints of gilding in the three circles placed within the letter. When I gild the Enchanted Letter, I usually start with the inking process. If i am going to gild a painted miniature, I start with a pencil process and do not ink in the lines first.

The next step for gilding is to apply a gold size. For flat gilding, I use Rolco Aqua Size. PVA will also work. I carefully apply the Rolco with a brush. The most important thing to remember about gilding is that whatever the gilding adhesvie looks like on the paper, is exactly what will be reflected in the gold leaf. Any brush strokes or dimpling in the size will show through the gold leaf. In this case, the small dots of Rolco were easily applied. I have tinted the Rolco which is a milky white colour with alizarin crimson watercolour so it is easier to see when I apply it. The size takes about 15 minutes to dry depending on the humidity in the air. It changes colour and appears shiny rather than cloudy when it dries.



Once the gilding size is dry, I apply my gold leaf. I use 23 K patent gold leaf for most of my gilding. I prefer this gold to loose gold for its ease of application. The gold is sold in books of 25 sheets.

The patent gold is attached to a sheet of lightweight paper and separated in the book between sheets of ruby paper. It is easy to handle this way. I cut the gold that I will use into tiny pieces similar in size to the area that needs to be gilded. This piece was cut to gild the centre of my Lombardic U for last week's Enchanged letter. I find that there is very little waste this way.

I use small scissors that are dedicated only to cutting gold. It is important that your scissors have not come in contact with any tape or adhesive as the gold will instantly stick to it.
I finger press the gold leaf (gold size down) on top of the gilding size . I lightly press it into place and then lift off the little sheet of gold. The gold leaf will have transferred to the adhesive. I continue to gild around all the areas that have size.

Once the gold is placed on the size there may be ragged edges of gold leaf where the gold has torn away from the transfer paper. I remove these ragged edges by using a very soft sable brush that is reserved solely for this purpose. If there is enough excess gold to save, I would keep it in a small container to use for touching up gilded areas or for very small areas that need to be gilded. I never waste the gold and try to keep all the excess.


You can see from this picture that I still have most of the gold from my original piece that I can save for my next gilded piece.

The final stage is the painting process which I will work on and post later.

4 comments:

Dana said...

What a treasure trove of information! Thanks for sharing. Is the gold a green gold? It is beautiful. Is using shell gold considered gilding or cheating? :)

I adore your work. I cannot believe you are to V ...and I am still on R, with L and M to yet post. At least I have Z done!

Beautiful lesson for us all....now if only I could do the flourishing.

xo~~

Heather Victoria Held said...

Happy to share the info Dana! The scanner makes the gold look more greenish. It is a rich gold colour. Shell gold is still considered gilding. It adds a beautiful shimmer if you get good quality shell gold.
xo,
Heather

Jane Farr said...

Thank you for such a wonderful, step-by-step tutorial of your flat gilding process Heather! xo

Heather Victoria Held said...

Happy to share it Jane!!
xo,
Heather