Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ready for Gilding

After countless hours of preparatory work the frame is ready for it's 22 karat, gold leaf coat.  This is what it looks like now:

   It's doesn't really appear that way but there are about 6 coats of French Yellow clay that will be the base color.  I then added two coats of French Red clay on the carving and sight edge.  It appears to be more green and purple than yellow and red but that's what it is!  I must admit to some apprehension about this next phase of the frame.  There are a couple of videos on YouTube showing the process.  One in particular by CJ Frames is just amazing!  Their gilder handles that gold like it's nothing but if you've ever tried it you know it's quite a process.  I've become proficient at laying Dutch gold which is an oil based process.  The gold is considerably  thicker and I have very little problems even laying a full sheet at a time.  This you can touch with your fingers and it won't disintegrate.  Twenty-two karat gold, on the other hand, will fall to pieces should you look at it cross-eyed or dare to breathe on it.  I did some test pieces and feel like my technique is coming along but the next 5 hours or so will tell.  I do the gilding in what used to be the kids bathroom.  I have a humidifier going and try to achieve at least 50% humidity but it's hard when it's only 7-8% outside.  The air conditioner vent is closed off with a magnetized piece of vinyl and I wear anti-static gloves to fight that problem too.  The process is to wet a section of the frame with what's referred to as "gilders liquor" (water and denatured alcohol), then use your gilders brush to pick up a piece of gold and, simply drop it in place onto the frame without moving, sneezing, breathing, or even the slightest flinch!!!  Since this molding is about 4" wide and measures 16" x 20" at the sight edge I can look forward to a long, hopefully successful day of gilding.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Sunday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Latest Project

It's been a while since I've updated the blog so here's what's been happening in the shop.  I decided to carve and gild a frame that is inspired  by the Art Nouveau style.  It's a style I really enjoy, things just seem to flow from one element to the next.  Of course, admiring it and being able to replicate it are two different things!

Here's the design I came up with.  My technique is to use double back tape and apply it to a thin piece of copper sheet that I have left over from another project.  This is cut out on the scroll saw.  The advantage I see here is that by cutting it out of the thin copper you merely have to flip it over to give you a right and left view.  This way the design can be drawn the same in all corners of the frame.

Carving is one of the skills that I keep working on.  Just like anything else, if you watch someone that has been doing it for years it looks effortless.  Not complaining but I have a ways to go to reach that point but know that with every frame and every stroke of the chisel my work is getting closer to what I want.  Here's the work in progress.

In this last picture I have the frame completely carved and sanded.  It also has a sealing coat of rabbit skin glue on it in preparation for the multiple coats of gesso followed by the bole (clay) which is the groundwork before the actual gilding process can begin.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Frame's Done

Here is the latest project, finished and ready to be delivered to my client.  I like how it came out and didn't realize how the finish on the quarter sawn White Oak meshed so nicely with the amber colored glass. This was constructed with traditional mortise and tenon joinery.  After gluing and clamping the frame, holes were drilled in each corner that went through the tenons, but not all the way through the frame.  These were then pegged with Ebony dowels that I had made for the stool project.
 As is customary, there had to be a little issue at the end -- this time it had to do with the brass screws I needed to attach the retaining strips on the back.  Even though these will rarely be seen I wanted them to match the era of the glass.  That means they just had to have a slotted head not a phillips.  I know, picky, picky, picky but hey, if it's worth doing it has to be right.  The big box stores didn't have the 4 x 1/2" brass that I needed so got the 5/8" long ones, you know the Chinese ones that don't have the threads cut into them but are just stamped so they will twist into a piece of styrofoam if you're very careful!  There's a hardware store here in Las Vegas called McFadden-Dale that I just love.  It's reminiscent of the lumber yard/hardware store I worked in as a kid and young adult.  Rows and rows of bins full of all kinds of stuff -- wonderful!  They had the right size and right quality so I bought a hundred of the little suckers.  Pre-drilled holes, bees wax, and a steady hand so the screwdriver didn't slip out of the slot and scratch the wood and we're done!