BASIC TOOLS USED IN GILDING
1. GILDER'S CUSHION
This is a piece of MDF approximately 9 inches by 6 inches. It is covered with thick blanket and the stretched over this is a soft calf skin leather, this is tacked into position to the four edges of the board. At one end and partly round two sides is a parchment or strong card windshield which is approximately 4 inches high, made to fold flat when not in use. The parchment/card sides when raised shelter the Gold Leaf whilst working, as the slightest draught will lift the Gold from the cushion and it is an almost impossible task to recover the leaf from the floor or anywhere else it may fall, due to the leaf being so thin. On the underside of the cushion is a leather loop for your thumb when holding the cushion. This enables the cushion to be held like a palette when in use. There is also a leather patch to hold a gilders knife.
2. GILDERS KNIFE
This is a scale tang knife with either a stainless steel or a carbon steel square blade with a dark wooden handle. The blade is fairly flexible and not too sharp. This is used for cutting the leaves of Gold Leaf into smaller pieces when placed onto the Gilders Cushion.
3. GILDERS TIP
Made in various widths and consisting of either squirrel hair, pony hair or badger hair, sandwiched between two pieces of thin cardboard. The hair of the tip is gently brushed against the side of you face to build up some static or grease to attract the gold leaf to the tip from the booklets or cushion prior to being placed on the surface to be gilded.
4. GILDERS MOP
A domed mop brush made from squirrel hair or pony hair, this is used to gently brush over the Gold Leaf once applied to the surface you are gilding. This brushes the leaf into place and brushes away any excess leaf.
5. AGATE BURNISHERS
Made from highly polished agate set in wooden handles, this is gently rubbed against the Gold Leaf to burnish to a high shine. These available in many shapes and sizes, the most popular being No.22 known as the dog tooth.
6. PARCHMENT CLIPPINGS/RABBIT SKIN GLUE
Size made with Parchment Clippings is by far the best. This is prepared by boiling 110grams of clippings with 1 Litre of water. The clippings should be simmered with the pan nearly covered for 1 - 1 1/2 hours by which time the liquid will have been reduced to almost half its original amount. Whilst still hot, strain the liquid to remove the remaining clippings. Once the size has cooled it should be the consistency of jelly. If you prefer to use Rabbit Skin Glue then you will need to soak 45 grams of the granules in 750ml water overnight. Liquefy it by warming it in a saucepan, do not allow to boil. Rabbit Skin Glue is also used in the making of gesso when mixed with whiting and as the biding agent bole.
Whiting is used for applying to surfaces prior to gilding, to act as a resist, in order for surplus Gold Leaf to be easily removed. It is also used in the preparation of gesso and mixed with Rabbit Skin Glue.
A mixture of Rabbit Skin Glue and Whiting, this is to be warmed and then used as a surface coating prior to gilding or to repair damaged and brittle frames, mirrors and furniture. It can also be used as a glue to join broken pieces of old gesso or plaster and moulded to fill in missing parts.
Bole is a clay like substance that is used as a base for gilding. It is applied to a prepared surface. The bole enhances the tone and lustre of the Gold during the burnishing process. Bole is a natural product and is available in various different colours. Some boles are already pre-mixed and ready to use where as some need to be mixed with Rabbit Skin Glue until a single cream consistency is reached.
10. GOLD SIZE
This is available in oil-based or water-based. Oil-based is recommended for exterior work and comes in 1, 3, 4 and 12 hour drying times. The water-based size is for interior use only and has a drying time of 15-30 minutes. Both are to be applied as thinly as possible and let to dry at their recommended drying times until which they will become tacky like the dry tack on a post it note. This is when it is ready to apply the Gold Leaf.
Gilding Capsules are also used as a size when glass gilding, these are dissolved in water of a ration 4 capsules to 500ml water.
11. GOLD LEAF
This is available in many different shades and carats from 24ct Pure Gold down to 6ct White Gold, the most popular being 23.5ct. Externally we recommend you use nothing lower than 23.5ct. Gold Leaf comes in booklets of 25 leaves, each leaf measuring 80mm x 80mm and is available in Loose form and Transfer form.
Loose Leaf - Each leaf of Gold is lay between rouged pages in the booklet and a Gilders Tip is used to remove them.
Transfer Leaf - Each leaf of Gold is adhered to a piece of acid free tissue paper and can be pressed to light, medium or hard press depending on the gilding work being done and how easily you require the leaf to come off the tissue paper.
Wrights of Lymm also offer a comprehensive range of gilding starter kits that would be ideal if you are looking to start gilding for the first time and the starter kits can be found on the Starter kits page of our website.