Frame restoration is a multi-step, often complicated process. Please note that there are two ways to gild an object: oil gilding and water gilding. This project used the oil gilding method.
This frame came to the gallery badly damaged. There were areas of loss in the sculpted design of the frame, and the original gilding had been worn and dirtied. The first step in repairing this frame was to re-cast the missing and broken sculpted forms.
Each piece was painstakingly reproduced using hand-made moulds. A plaster composite was poured into the mould until it hardened. Once the pieces were complete they were affixed to the frame in the various areas of loss. The edges between the new sculptural elements and the original were carefully blended together- creating a seamless transition from old to new.
Next, the frame was painted with a black paint, which was intended to mimic the appearance of bole (bole would be used when gilding using a water gilding technique). Once painted, the frame was then covered with a size, which is an adhesive material used to affix the gold, metal or silver leaf to the structure. The size must dry for a period of time before applying the gold leaf.
Once it has dried to a proper tackiness, the gold leaf is applied using a gilders tip. A gilders tip is a brush, usually composed of squirrel hair, which is used to pick up the gold leaf and apply it to the size. Once the gold leaf has been laid, it is tamped down to assure it adheres properly to the adhesive. Next, any breaks in the gold leaf, known as holidays, are filled in with additional gold leaf. At this point, the gold needs to be toned and antiqued.
The gold is painted with an antiquing solution, with concentration on specific parts of the frames, such as the recessed areas. Once the gold is properly antiqued a special antique solution of casein is painted over the frame. The frame is now fully conserved and ready to be returned to the client.