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Large Area Surface Gilding

For an upcoming competition I’m rebinding a copy of Titus Andronicus.  I’ve had some difficulty with designs on this one, but what I ended up with required doing a massive amount of surface gilding.  Surface gilding is the process of applying gold to the surface of something rather than down in the impression that a tool makes.  After some tests, I carried it out.  This is just some general discussion and should probably not be taken as a tutorial.  Steps are left out, technique is not thoroughly discussed, and hey, it’s gold.  This stuff is expensive.

First there’s cutting the design out of frisket.  It’s a low adhesive film used to mask off areas in graphic design and is perfect for this purpose. I also took some time to lay out the copious amounts of gold needed for this.  I used more than is laid out there.

Then I applied PVA size.  This size is applied with a wide flat brush (top left)  in no small amount.  I made mine using Jade 403 PVA and tap water in a 1:8 ratio.  I let it sit, then strain it through coffee filters several times.  I let it dry about ten minutes.

I applied another coat of size immediately before laying down the gold.  There’s a lot of gold.

Some light burnishing is done and as October has had 9 out of 10 days gloomy so far, mood lighting is also applied.

Burnish more.  I use a small dogtooth burnisher made out of agate, but I’ve had decent luck with some of my bonefolders and I’ve been told that stones purchased from rock shops will also work.

Burnish more!  I could see the reflection of my hand in it when I was going over it.  I took some of the long burnishing time to mend any cracks, tears or holes in the gold by applying more size and more gold.

I let it sit overnight, then came in and peeled off the frisket.  I burnished the edges a little more, probably out of some sort of odd superstition more than any actual reason, but it made me feel better.

This is the first time I’ve done large surface gilding and the first time I’ve done surface gilding before covering.  We’ll see whether it’s a good decision or a fantastic waste of resources.

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