Society of Gilders *GOT GOLD LEAF?*

Everyone familiar with me knows that I'm a picture frame designer, maker, carver, and gilder who makes frames exclusively for his wife's artworks. During 1999 I began studying picture frame history and soon discovered gilding in all its glory. I was lucky enough to have a friend who gave me the first 10 years of Picture Framing Magazine (1990-1999) wherein I discovered a treasure trove about frames, frame making, gilding, and the industry.

In 2004, I received a professional development grant from Wyoming Arts Council to attend the West Coast Art and Frame Expo in Las Vegas during January 2005. It was there that Marty Horowitz of Gold Leaf Frame Makers Santa Fe introduced me to water gilding with karat gold leaf. I had already been oil gilding since 1999, so I wasn't new to gold leaf. But water gilding was much more involved and intriguing. Despite learning that the finest frames are water gilt, I've continued mostly oil gilding since I'm mostly an exhibitor in outdoor arts and crafts festivals, and water gilding might be too delicate for that kind of exposure to the elements inside my tent. I've exhibited some in outdoor shows, but I prefer not taking the chance to ruin my gilding with moisture and whatnot.

While exhibiting in Chain of Parks Art Festival in Tallahassee, a lady came into our booth and inquired about my frames and gilding, and then she introduced herself as the President of Society of Gilders. She invited me to join and said that she would use my work in an upcoming exhibition in New Jersey featuring other members of SOG if I did join very soon. I joined. I exhibited.

My gilding work has grown in leaps and bounds since joining SOG. Furthermore, I'm so delighted with their camaraderie that I mentioned I'd like to be a member of their board of trustees, to which I was voted onto in December 2016. Welcome aboard!

Now as a member of the SOG board, I am helping to promote our gilding conference happening in Arlington (Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area) June 5-10, 2017 on the University of Texas campus. Here's a link to the SOG website talking about the conference. If you hover over the word Conference in the menu bar, you can also explore the other opportunities happening with SOG in Arlington. We always schedule a community project where the most experienced gilders lead a group that will gild an architectural project and sometimes a bronze or other public artwork statuary or monument. When the conference was in Washington D.C., the group gilded the Iwo Jima Monument.

If we have any gilders on AFI, this will be a great opportunity to improve your skills learning from leaders in the field. It's really worth the time and money to climb aboard. Also, we hope anyone gilding who's not already a member of SOG will at least become a member with us. And if anyone has any questions, I'm at your service.

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  • Oops, I goofed with my spelling of Prendergast. Sorry, Chuck!

  • Yes ... that is what they said. Definitely a high class operation and a highly regarded art/craft. In fact, there was another nicely framed piece on Antiques Roadshow this week, gilded and admired by all. 

  • Today, May 10, is the final day for SOG Conference lower cost registration!

    BTW, Connie, that frame and painting on Antiques Roadshow was by Hermann Dudley Murphy of the Carrig-Rohane shop in Boston. He founded C-R after traveling to Europe where he was a friend of Whistler's, another person who designed his own frames. Murphy came back to US and began carving and gilding his own frames (like me). Other associates of Murphy's included Walfred Thulin and Charles Pendergast.

  • BTW, if it was The Society of Front Porch "Gliders", I might considers joining myself...ha,ha.

  • Yes, it was early 20th century. Sorry it was going too fast for me to catch the name. An American, a seascape and a lovely frame. The person who brought it to the show said at the last minute she grabbed it from the closet because of the beautiful frame. It looked like silver gilding to me. Could that be so?
  • Was it an American frame? I like The Voice a lot and will have to miss the Road Show tonight.

    Thanks for the kind words, Connie.

    Are there any other gilders lurking here? Would love to hear from other gilders. WOOHOO!

  • On Antiques Road Show just now they appraised the frame for as much as the really nice painting. Got a fast history about fine art frames.

    Of course I have seen your lovely work and your wife's fine painting, such fine traditional work, treasures.
  • Thanks for the kind words, CLT!

    Hey, those initials have a delightful ring to them. A play on TLC. WOOHOO!

  • Fascinating subject, Barrie, and congratulations!  I'm loving that you joined the Society and then became a member of the Board of Trustees...very cool.

  • I imagine that if your paintings are water-based, you are probably using a water-based size such as Dux brand or Wundasize. Oil painters use oil-based size.

    Water gilding involves the use of rabbit skin glue or hide glue as the adhesive that holds it all together. RSG is hygroscopic and will become sticky once it's re-wet. So we make our gesso with calcium carbonate, water, and RSG. Apply gesso in 5-8 layers to prepare the surface for gilding. Then we use bole (clay) to color the surface, but we also combine this with RSG so that it sticks and marries to the gesso surface. Once dry, we often polish the bole so that it provides a glassy-smooth surface so that it's most suitable to receive the karat gold leaf. We mix a gilder's liquor consisting of water and a little bit of isopropyl alcohol, and with this we'll flood the surface of the bole using a gilder's mop to prep the surface for receiving the karat gold leaf. We the quickly apply the gold using a gilder's tip. Flood the surface, apply the gold, flood the surface, apply the gold. Until the project is completed. Once we're finished gilding and the surface underneath the gold is dry, we burnish the gold using an agate stone so that it improves the appearance to a high shine.

    It is really not possible to burnish oil gilding.

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