Florence window gilding

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Dan Seese
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Florence window gilding

Post by Dan Seese » Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:50 pm

Last fall my wife & I spent 3 weeks in Italy. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the trip was the week we spent in the heart of Florence. We had a room in a vintage hotel located on the Arno River right beside the Ponte Vecchio. Ancient history oozed from the architecture and art as well as every brick & cobblestone; yet one thing that caught my camera's eye was the ubiquitous gilding on the storefront windows. Almost everything was executed in a particular style - a version of what I've always known as "Chicago-style" - using both a matte finish (with varnish size) and a mirror finish (with water size). This can be executed fairly rapidly and increases visibility by combining the constancy of the matte gold with the flashy burnished gold which changes as one moves in front of the glass.

Not only the nice designs but the craftsmanship was a pleasure to see. Hand-executed fine outlines (1/16”) with subtle color choices – though not really visible in these photos – was common fare.

I'm posting here a few meager samples of some of the pictures I captured while wandering around the city. Then I'll follow up later with another post of what became my favorite window.
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Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

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Ron Berlier
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Ron Berlier » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:25 pm

Hi Dan, very nice eye candy. Thank you for sharing your great gilding 'finds'. Please share some more with us. In the second photo what is the background behind the "Caffee'" lettering - it looks like it might be copper leaf?
Ron Berlier
Wherever I go, there I am.

DAVE SMITH
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by DAVE SMITH » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:23 pm

I also like the Chicago style Dan. I seen very simalar work while in Venice last year,mat and burnished work on nearly every street and walk way. All hand done .
Thanks for sharing
Dave

Roderick Treece
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Roderick Treece » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:08 pm

Hi Dan,
Going to Florence made my want to move there to gild. Your top photo is the same one I have on my web site.

http://www.customglasssigns.com/custom_ ... signs.html

Dan Seese
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Dan Seese » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:23 pm

Hi Ron,
What you are seeing behind the Cafe lettering is actually the ceiling of the shop.
I don't think I saw any copper gilding on our trip, but I did see a lot of copper in Asissi - statuary, bas-relief, light fixtures, etc. Seemed to go beautifully with the pink stone quarried from Mount Subasio which gives this town a unique appearance.
Dave, I remember the photos you posted and saved them to my hard-drive. Would love to have seen that in person.
Attaching a couple more photos here.
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Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
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Dan Seese
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Dan Seese » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:28 pm

Roderick,
The photo you have on your website (Orologeria) is, if I recall, part of the same storefront but the background was beginning to flake off. So I've posted a picture of "Gioilleria" - which was in better condition.
Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
http://www.DanSeeseStudios.com/blog/
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Doug Bernhardt
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:59 pm

Excellent photos Dan. You should take a few of your favourites and post them in the "Masterpieces" section above. That way they'll never get lost within the lists.

Dan Seese
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Dan Seese » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:03 pm

As promised earlier:

The front door for Papini Leather became my favorite window sign in Florence. The store was located just a few doors from our hotel on the Arno river. I went inside & spent some time speaking with Mr. Papini. His grandfather started the business in 1896, and currently his daughter & granddaughter work at the store - 5 generations. He took me to the back to show me a case filled with well used leather-working tools and also showed me an old photograph of the front of the store where the sidewalk was littered with bombs left behind by the Nazi army after World War 2.

The last three photographs are taken from the gilding on the door. If my memory serves me well, the image on the door is probably about 12" - 14" wide, so you can see how nicely the fine lines were executed.

I love the logo. Simple yet stately; delicate with sinewed strength; a unified aesthetic with a strong base & contained within an arched tree leading your eye back to the head of the gazelle, who in-turn brings you back into the design. I believe he said the window sign was done in 1929. If that's the case, it is in marvelous condition.
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Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
http://www.DanSeeseStudios.com/blog/
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BruceJackson
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by BruceJackson » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:13 pm

nice.

I started using this design combination in the late 80's and ended up doing quite a few windows in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Similar to your first photo, using a classic Roman pointy-serif style in a prismatic to emulate a stone-carved letter. It became a bit of a signature style.

For the benefit of any readers who haven't done this before, here's a couple of tips.

There are a few ways you can do it, but i mainly did it as a two-stage gilding process. First do the water-gilding for the bright finish, then do the matt side by gilding with transfer leaf onto tacky goldsize.

It looks like these are all done as a single-stage. The easiest method is to paint the outline first, if you are going to use an outline, then paint the gold-size varnish (you can dust some fine powder onto the glass so you can see where you are painting), when it has gone off, water gild over the whole thing.

Both methods have their pros and cons. I usually choose the two-stage because it gives a matter matt and a bit more contrast than a single-stage process.

How can you tell the difference? Usually you will see a lay line crossing both finishes.

Tony Segale
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Tony Segale » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:04 am

Wow. Thanks for the post, Dan.

Those creative Italians can teach us more gilding techniques.
I'll be using this technique very soon, and when I do,
i'll add to this post.

Thanks again
and he took that golden hair and made a sweater for baby bear.
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Robare M. Novou
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Robare M. Novou » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:29 am

In Seville Spain ....Confiteria La Campana

http://www.confiterialacampana.com/

Enjoy the View.

RMN
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What's On Your Book Shelf ?

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oatis
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by oatis » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:48 pm

Dan: What a treat to see all this--and to know you and Chris made pilgrimage. I'm sure you filled another memory card with strictly architectural details and sculpture, too; please post a few.
It is great to know our Italian brethern are balanced on ladders and throwing down those TIGHT outlines, sans plotted masks and other bothersome encumberances.

You did a great job of capturing several of the signs in light and shadow, and demonstrating what most gold artists know:
the burnish (mirror) side usually serves as the DARK side of the convex, and does it's dance as the viewer moves--the matte side is the legibile partner of the team.

What works great on a single-stage job is to stomp the oil size with a bristle brush while it is still BARELY tacky. Not only does it help to disguise any brushstokes, but when you do the water gild the next day those mattes stand up and scream!

Thanks for the post!

Mark

Dan Seese
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Dan Seese » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:44 am

Hi Mark,

I've done a similar treatment on the oil size using a sponge instead of the stiff brush you're referring to. It does even out the strokes and give some texture to catch the light.

You're quite right - about me filling up a memory card with architectural features. I never imagined Tuscany & Umbria would be so beautiful. The fall colors in the countryside & vineyards were exceptional & every hilltop village had it’s own character with narrow, winding streets. Architectural details were a constant distraction. The doors, the hardware and the door knockers all had such character - I probably took pictures of at least 60-70 doors.

Chris grew accustomed to me trailing behind with my camera permanently stuck to my face. She eventually conferred on me the title “Pope Arrazzi”. The photos I posted were from a memory card which contained about 500 pictures before I put another card in the camera. I filled up the second card with over 1000 pictures and it was in the camera when, on my way home from Italy it was lost or stolen. Take the camera but give me the pictures! At least I still had this one card from our time in Florence. (Seems like you and I have had this conversation before: about the near-perversity of trying to "capture the moment" instead of living the moment.)

So I’m only going to add a few more here because most of my pictures are gone forever. I still have incredible memories and the taste of wine and olive oil still lingers.

Dan

P.S. Robare - I would love to see some closer pictures some time of those gilded Art Nouveau pictorial panels in Spain.
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My absolute favorite door-knocker
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Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
http://www.DanSeeseStudios.com/blog/
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Robare M. Novou
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Robare M. Novou » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:12 pm

Dan, we will just have to be satisfied with the close-ups you provided...as I do not have any close-ups of La Campana.
I got those photos off the internet...maybe someone can do a search on flickr and see what shows up.

Too bad about your camera gone missing. Guess you will just have to go back next year. :)

And take two camera's this time...cause as I say...one to use, one to lose.

RMN
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

peter mccullen
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by peter mccullen » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:02 am

Hi - Some more Italian gold...this photo was taken in Bologna, about two hours from Florence.
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cam bortz
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by cam bortz » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:17 pm

Mark, I've also done that trick of texturing an almost-dry matte varnish center. I've even gone so far as to etch patterns into a matte center as one would do in damar; the patterns are very subtle, but they do pick up the light.

This makes me want to play with gold on glass again. It's been over a year since I did any. Too, too long.....sigh.

Dan Seese
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Re: Florence window gilding

Post by Dan Seese » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:15 pm

I started this thread last year.
As Doug suggested in one of the posts above, I've added a few of the pictures to the "Masterpiece" section at the top of the forum and may be adding some more.

I took this same story of the window gilding in Italy and made it a blog post on my website which you can see here:
http://www.danseesestudios.com/blog/201 ... italy.html

Yes, this is shameless self-promotion but I thought it was worth resurrecting. If you care to comment, "like" it on my website or "share" the article, that would be great!
Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
http://www.DanSeeseStudios.com/blog/
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