Here are descriptions of the basic classes that the Society of Gilders offers. Course content may change to reflect the instructor's and the student's interests and strengths.
Traditional Water Gilding
This class is for anyone who is interested in water gilding and wants to improve their skills. Each student will gild a picture frame (normally included in the materials fee). Students will learn to prepare rabbit skin glue, chalk gesso, bole, gilding liquor and toning materials. The instructor will demonstrate how to properly apply these materials, then each student will work on their own frame. Students will learn how to gild out of a book of gold leaf, as well as work off of a gilder's pad. We will discuss various techniques and open up discussions about other types of gilding options. Students may use their own tools and supplies, or purchase materials and tools.
Oil Gilding: Metal Leaf Finishes
In this hands-on course participants will be guided through the centuries old techniques of oil gilding. From preparation to final antiquing and toning, each participant will learn the proper procedures to prime, prepare size, gild and seal many samples. Working with Dutch metal, aluminum, copper and silver leaf, members of the class will experiment with mat and broken leaf techniques, double gilding, inlays, distressed finishes, and flash gilding with mica powders and other effects.
Wood Carving: Late 19th through Early 20th Century and Contemporary American Picture Frames
This class will explore basic carving techniques. The students will learn how to carve 3 relief border designs including beads, a hollow rounded dentil pattern and a rope design. The final day each student will carve a simple Hassan style frame. Sharpening techniques and safety will be discussed and emphasized. Students will be provided with one basswood frame, basswood carving blocks, course syllabus, drawing paper, tracing paper and pencils. Students must provide carving tools and mallets. If students bring their own chisels, it will be required that they are properly sharpened before hand.
Ornament Restoration and Mold Making
This class will cover the basics on how to replace missing compo ornaments, making molds and casting; repairing gesso losses; and matching tone of repairs. Basic gilding skills are required. Students will work on actual antique frames in class and need to bring in a small frame to be worked on in the classroom.
Antiquing & Toning
Toning is one of the most interesting and challenging things that gilders do to create an authentic antique finish. Toning techniques can create a patina of age on repairs or new work. The best toning looks completely natural, like no human hand was involved. Toning may also be done to make a frame harmonize with a work of art, or to make the gilding have a special look for a work of art. Different karats of leaf, bole color, glue, shellac, pigments, acids, and wax are some of the materials used in toning work. We will work on a variety of karats of leaf and with silver, to make an antique vermeil finish. This is a challenging, fun, and messy workshop; be prepared.
Pastiglia, Gilding and Punching (Grannito)
This class will focus on making pastiglia, raised gesso, and learning how to apply it to the surface of a frame. The class will also cover the preparation and application of bole, water gilding, burnishing and grannito (punching), as well as discussions of various ways of toning the frame with pigments and shellacs. Experimentation with design and surface decorations will be encouraged. Students will learn how to handle gold leaf and to gild out of a book of gold leaf. Students may bring their own tools and materials or purchase them prior to the class.
Sgraffito is the technique of scratching through a layer of paint to the gilded surface below. The water gilded surface is painted with a hand-made egg tempera paint and once it dries, patterns are scraped and drawn into the surface allowing the gilded surface to show through. Fabulous effects are created which give another dimension and detail to a gilded surface. Often this technique was used in Renaissance panel painting. This is a great technique to use on reproduction frames and furniture.
The Methods and Materials of Medieval Manuscript Illumination
The class will begin with an illustrated overview of the art form, which first evolved for use in sacred books, followed by a show of samples and demonstrations of the illumination process. Students will then put these techniques to use as they gild and paint their first small-scale project. On day two, students will begin their second larger and more complex project by laying adhesive and gilding all the areas intended for burnished gold leaf. The final day’s session will be devoted to finishing these projects by employing traditional painting techniques, using gouache and tempera, culminating with precise outlining in ink and highlighting in white. Students will be provided with authentic tools and materials to use throughout the class, and will receive enough gold leaf and adhesive for future projects at home. Each will also receive lists of supplies and suppliers, recommended instructional books, relevant museum collections to visit, and an annotated bibliography of books related to the past and present practice of manuscript illumination.
Panel and Furniture Gilding; Water Gilding Substrates for Panels or Furniture
Students will gild two 12” x 12”x ½” panels using traditional techniques and materials. All steps of preparation and application will be covered from making and applying gesso to completing a single gild matt panel, using silver and gold leaf. There will be opportunity to practice various ways of applying half and full sheets of leaf and I will discuss techniques for creating consistent application, remedying flaws as well as methods for handling multiple panel production. You will be working on panels but the instructor will also talk about how the techniques taught in this course can be used on furniture.
Verre Eglomise, Reverse Painting and Gilding on Glass
This class will cover both the basic steps of reverse painting and gilding on glass as well as more advanced eglomise skills. The use of multiple metals, along with more complex decorative paint finishes and techniques will be explored, Students can bring their own design ideas to use towards a piece of work. Both beginners and students with some experience are welcome. Detailed notes including supply and vendor lists will be provided.
More classes in different facets of the gilding arts will be available from time to time. For current class schedules and any additional offerings, click here.