Today, as in times past, the art of water gilding is a traditional centuries-old technique. It is a long and detailed process to which artisans devote all of their abilities and expertise.
To develop this expertise requires no less than five years of apprenticeship.
The result is unrivalled. Only through hard work and dedication to this time consuming process, can all of the beauty be extracted from the noble materials.
A moulding that has been water gilded is easily recognised for its transparency, its shine and the characteristic overlaps of the leaves. These qualities convert each moulding into a “unique piece”.
To make these mouldings a wood called “Ayous” is used. The wood is kiln-dried and worked to avoid warpage. The wood is also treated to prevent insect infestation.
Once milled, approximately seven coats of gesso (mix of clay, water & rabbit skin glue) are applied to the moulding.
The moulding is now ready for water gilding.
Three coats of bole are applied
Bole is specially formulated for gilding. It is similar to refined clay. The bole must be allowed to dry for 24 hours. The moulding is then sanded to obtain a perfectly smooth surface.
The moulding is moistened, section by section, with a mixture of water and alcohol.
The leaf is then applied using cotton, gilders tip or martin hair brush, depending on whether Sterling Silver, metal or gold leaf is used
The leaf is rubbed with steel wool to highlight the colour of the underlying bole.
The moulding is polished with alcohol and pumice
stone. To extract the maximum brightness from the
leaf, the moulding is burnished with agate stone.
Finally, the moulding is varnished with shellac to provide a lasting protective shine and to prevent oxidation.
Depending on the desired finish, the moulding may be enhanced by antiquing.