Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016

1.10.2009

Water-Gilding

After I was deep into this series on collecting and displaying art, I realized that the current issue of Country Living includes a beautifully produced story on the 104-year-old frame-making Senelar atelier in Hazebrouck, France. American-based Larson Juhl aquired the old family business in 1995, but the frames are still crafted using a traditional water-gilding process developed during the Renaissance.

Water-gilded frames first receive fine layers of gesso which are sanded by the craftsman to a porcelain-smooth finish. Next, numerous coats of colored clay are applied -- hues typically include red, yellow, black, brown or blue. This is what gives the final layer of gold leaf its color, as the gold is rubbed in such a way that the undercoat shows through.

Today the atelier offers frames gilded in 22-karat gold, as well as options with gold-colored metal leaf. Prices range from $20 to $225 per foot. In Atlanta, the framing shop at Sam Flax is one place to go to see water-gilded moldings, including Larson Juhl products. But you will also find other recession-friendly options there.

The V & A has put together a short video that demonstates historic methods of water-gilding. Country Living photographs are by Beatriz da Costa.

2 comments:

Things That Inspire said...

Recently I was going to get some etchings reframed (they had ugly wood frames), but instead I decided to try to 'gild' the old wood frames myself. I went to a craft store with the intention of buying liquid leaf gold, but ended up buying 'Rub 'n Buff' in antique gold for less than $5. It is a paste that you rub onto the wood, and buff to smooth finish. I was very pleased with the results, and even more pleased that I did not spend hundreds of dollars on new framing!

Style Court said...

Thanks for the tip Sarah! I'd like to try that with a set of four frames that I currently can't afford to change.

Tough times call for resourcefulness and sometimes these DIY things can have surprisingly good results!