Water Gilding

Water gilding is a gold leafing technique that dates back over 4,000 years. The techniques we know of today are rooted in ancient Egyptian techniques, which were later improved and refined during the Renaissance era in Europe. Our products allow you to practice the very same refined methods gilders used in Europe hundreds of years ago. From the gesso and bole to the gilding pad and gilder’s tip, we have what you need for traditional water gilding.

Traditional Water Gilding:

  1. Process: Traditional water gilding is a complex and time-consuming process. It involves applying gold leaf to a surface using water-based adhesive or gesso.
  2. Preparation: The surface to be gilded is meticulously prepared. This may involve applying layers of gesso (a mixture of chalk, gypsum, and glue) and smoothing it to create a smooth, even surface.
  3. Application: A special adhesive called “gilder’s liquor” (also known as mordant or gilding water) is applied to the prepared surface. This adhesive is made by mixing water, hide glue, and other additives. The gold leaf is then carefully laid onto the adhesive, which is still wet.
  4. Burnishing: After the gold leaf has dried, it can be burnished with an agate or hematite stone to achieve a high gloss. This process involves gently rubbing the gold leaf to make it smooth and shiny.
  5. Finishing: The gilded surface can be further decorated or protected with varnishes, patination, or other techniques, depending on the desired effect.
  6. Challenges: Traditional water gilding requires a high level of skill and patience. Factors such as humidity and temperature can affect the process, making it challenging to achieve consistent results.

Traditional water gilding is often used for fine art restoration and conservation, as it allows for precise and historically accurate gilding. It creates a luxurious and lustrous finish that has been highly valued throughout history. While the process is labor-intensive, the results are enduring and exquisite, making it a timeless technique in the world of art and craftsmanship.

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Showing 1–30 of 33 results