Skip to content

Gold Leaf Gilding

The video below shows Master gilder A. Gurrieri performing the water gilding process, one among the available gold leaf gilding techniques. This kind of gilding (also called Gouache gilding) is an ancient technique used to realize wood frames for paintings. Its main feature consists of allowing the gold surface to be gleaming.

The red along the frame sides is called bole. It appears like a lacquer color but contains rabbit glue. When one wets it with a brush, it becomes sticky enough to attract the gold leaf. Once the gilder has laid the leaves all along the frame’s sides, it is time to wait at least 12 hours. After that time, the bole will be dried entirely, and the Gouache gilding will be completed. The frame is then ready for the polishing phase, known as gold burnishing.

This video shows how the gilder lays the golden leaves on the frame. This is the most challenging part of the gold leaf gilding. It is a complex and delicate work because one must focus on the pillow, the knife, and the brush at the same time. With a skillful play of puffs, one picks the gold leaf from the book, cuts it to size, and applies it delicately on the wet red bole. As you noticed, water is the critical element of the whole process.

Since 1905, the Federici Workshop (called Nowframes as brand name) has been realizing gold leaf gilding with 22-carat gold leaf for manufacturing high-quality reproductions of antique picture frames. For more details about the frame model shown in the video, see our product page following the link cod. 02. This model reproduces an antique Bolognese frame of the late 1600s.