Saturday, November 26, 2011


I love gold, and gilding, and I've applied a few bits here and there in my paintings before, but each time has felt like stab in the dark, a delicate hold-your-breath moment of risk followed by either reward or disaster.

A few days ago I put the gold onto my reliquary doors, and now I'm much better at gilding and manipulating the gold leaf. Unfortunately I've learned the hard way, by messing up lots of times, and the current results are not good. Look, here is the left door so far...

The key thing I did wrong is, I think, applied the gold when the size was too wet, and/or putting too much size on. This has stopped it from drying beneath the gold, and when the gold is touched it squidges, seeping oil through the gold which then flakes or otherwise disintegrates leaving an ugly sandpapery look of half gold/half oil, an ugly yellow ochre, instead of gold. I think the best solution is to squidge and let it seep, and when tacky, apply more gold. I should be able to gild over gold, I think. I can but try.

Either way I'm better at it now than before, and I can only learn by doing. So here's to a future reliquary, which will take half the time and look twice as good.

I'm using 24 carat gold and it's totally different to handle than the artificial stuff, much easier, in fact. It should also smooth out well. That picture looks like tin foil almost but in person the effect is room-blowing (which is one step better than mind blowing). There are lots of flakes and bits on there that I need to brush away, too, so that's by no means finished. If those doors were solid gold they would cost about a million pounds. As they are there is about £60 of gold on there... but it won't stop there because I'm going to make a custom jewel from silver gilt for the inside. I've not done any metalwork since school, and my only knowledge of how comes from a cursory glance at a book in Hobbycraft yesterday, but I need the jewel, so I have to try, and I have to make one.

It's the trying that matters.

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