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Gold Leaf Gilding

Water Gilding

Procedure of water gilding performed by the Master Gilder Antonio Gurrieri of the Federici Workshop.

The process of water gilding (also called Gouache gilding) is an ancient technique of gold leaf gilding very used for the realization of frames. This procedure allows to obtain a particularly shiny gold.

The red surface is called bole. The bole contains rabbit glue and every time it is wet with a brush it can be spread over the surface the gold leaf. The wet bole attracts the leaf on itself and about 12 hours after this process, when the bole has completely dried, the Gouache gilding is completed and it is possible to proceed with the polishing phase, also known as gold burnishing.

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In this video you are able to see only the phase of the laying of the golden leaves. This is the most difficult part of the gold leaf gilding, the most complex and delicate work, where the gilder need to be very focused on the pillow, the knife and the brush all toghether. With a complicated play of puffs, the gold leaf is extracted from the small book, cut to size and spread delicately on the wet surface upon the red bole. As you see water is the key element to do the whole process.

Since 1905, the Federici Worshop of Bologna has been carrying out gold leaf gilding with 23 or 22 carat gold leaf for the realization of an enormous quantity of Reproduction picture frames.

For more informations about the frame model shown in the video, see the following page:

This is the frame model cod. 02 which is the reproduction of an antique Bolognese frame of the late 1600s. This frame model is also called “Spighetta bolognese”.

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