Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gilding and Finishing a Gadroon Frame

The frame from the previous blog post has now been gilded, in 23.5ct loose leaf gold.

When dry, the gilding is consolidated with a thin coat of clear shellac.
Ageing the gold:
 If the gilding was water laid, the gold would have been gently abraded to show the leaf overlaps and the underlying ground colours. This however is oil gilded and to use any abrasions will tend to both dull and tear the fine surface of the gilding.
For this frame I have used a series of antique glazes to create the effect below.

The antique glaze is water based and must be applied in thin coats in order to avoid puddles and streaking. Each coat must then be protected with an isolating varnish, as repeated applications of water glaze will tend to lift the previous coats.
It is the gentle abrading of the isolating varnish that creates the effect of. wear on the gilding.

A frame like this can require six to eight coats of antique glaze.

                                                        My Antique Glaze.
The challenge of trying to age gilding to the colour seen on antique picture frames in museums and galleries, is to alter the colour of the gold but not kill its luminosity.
The glaze I use has two main working elements; a mixture of dyes which rotate the colour of the gold from a pale golden yellow to a cold dirty green, with a hint of sourness.
This alone, however, leaves the gilding quite sharp and thin in appearance.
The second working element is a selection of bright pigments to fill out the colour and  return the lively reflectance of good gilding.
As I said, this can only be achieved by the repeated use of thin coats of glaze but well worth the resulting effect.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Making a Gadroon Style Frame

I'll describe the processes I used to make this frame.
The basewood is cut from a length of pine stretcher split in half. The profile was then sized with rabbit skin glue and sprayed over with gesso.
Once dry, the gesso is smoothed with two grits of sandpaper, 180 then320.
To make the moulding decoration, I squished some warm compo into prepared moulds. After allowing the compo to cool, it is cut from the casting and glued to the frame moulding.
Both inner and outer castings are shown here on the frame.
On this style of frame, I prefer to glue the castings on the frame lenghts first. Then the frame is joined and the mitres filled with hot gesso. After drying, the corners are re-polished and the frame readied for painting with clay bole.
Some people like to apply many coats of bole. I prefer to just paint on two thin coats, as this can show a more interesting effect when seen through worn gilding. So, the frame is given two coats of thin yellow ochre colour and a light top of red on the high points of the compo decoration.
When dry, the bole is lightly sanded with very fine grits and polished with a short hog hair stencil brush.
This frame is to be oil-gilded, as correct for it's period, so the entire surface is sealed with a thinned coat of clear shellac.
When this shellac is well dried, I painted on a 12hour goldsize. It's as important to remove as much surplus size from the surface as possible so that when" tack-ready" for gilding, the oil size has achieved a perfectly flat finish. Together with the slow drying properties of 12hor size, the gilding will show at it's brightest.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Rosewood Frame

The rosewood frame has been assembled and finished.

Rosewood can be a tricky veneer to age. The wood has a very strong colour which if simply polished is too bright and new, yet toning the colour darkens the wood and can result in the loss of effect. I use waterstains because they give good control of debth and colour. A careful addition of dry pigments in shellac mellows the effect.
I've used four layers of shellac to build up the surface, painted on a light antiquing glaze, then two coats of clear wax.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Some finished Frames

The Elm veneered frame has now been finished.
I've inserted a traditional victorian watergilded slip.
After the veneer was given it's shellac varnish and allowed this to sink into the grain, I denibbed the surface and applied two coats of antique glaze, followed by two applications of clear wax. The glaze is water-based, so wasn't disturbed by the wax.
The slips are double scooped where the inner scoop is burnished and the outer scoop left matt and heavily distressed.
Here they are before toning with antique glaze.
And after toning.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Veneered Frames - continued

The frames have now been cut and assembled.
This is one of the elm frames. Here I've mixed up a water-stain using Fiddes concentrates and scrubbed it into the raw veneer. Mixing stains can be very subjective but I find blending the concentrates with some Van Dyke crystals gives a good antique colour. Two coats of stain bring out the grain pattern best.
Next the colours are muted with some umbers and ultra-marine blue, mixed with spirit stain concentrates in shellac. All a bit complicated and it does take quite some care.
After all that, the frame is given several coats of shellac white polish and left to dry.
Leaving the frame then to allow the shellac to sink through the grain and give a pleasing relief pattern on the surface.