Making my own gilder's cushion.

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Julio Cesar Germano
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Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Julio Cesar Germano » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:36 am

Hi All,

Self-explanatory title I believe. :)
Anybody could give me a description of how soft/hard should a gilder's cushion be?
As for the suede covering, is there a specific animal leather I should be looking for? There's a fellow here who even sells
ostrich leather so there's quite a good range to choose from :shock: .

I've gotten around the fact Brazil doesn't have any of the stuff I need to start learning gilding so, being
necessity the mother of creations...

Thanks in advance.

Julio Cesar.
I've started calligraphy as a hobby a couple of years ago and, from there, stumbled upon
the wonderful world of lost arts - pinstriping, chalkboard art, hand-lettering and sign making.

From Brazil.

Julio Cesar

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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Danny Baronian » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:30 pm

Julio,

the pad pictured is 1/4" thick mahogany, 4 3/4" x 5 3/4". Cut the wood to size, lightly sand the edges. Take a paper towel and fold it to fit the wood till you get about 6 layers of paper towel. If any hangs over the edge, trim to size.

I used deer skin because it was on hand, and was given to me by my father. I think any kind of smooth, pliable leather of the type soft gloves are made of would work. Staple one end down, followed by the opposite end, then both sides.

Finish by cutting a 1/4" wide strip of leather, and using copper tacks, nail to the outer edge, trim the edges, and you're done.

Danny
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Julio Cesar Germano
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Julio Cesar Germano » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:04 pm

Thank you Danny!
I wouldn't have dreamed that it was plain paper towels inside these.

Is there a particular reason for using mahogany?
Does synthetic leather yields the same result? Awfully difficult to find real suede...

Julio Cesar
I've started calligraphy as a hobby a couple of years ago and, from there, stumbled upon
the wonderful world of lost arts - pinstriping, chalkboard art, hand-lettering and sign making.

From Brazil.

Julio Cesar

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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Danny Baronian » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:04 pm

Why mahogany? Simply because I had it on hand. You could use anything, even 1/4" ply. Just take care putting the tacks in so it doesn't split the edges. Paper towels surprised me too, but that's what I was told to use by the lady that made them.

Synthetic leather? I have no idea. I wouldn't think it would be that hard to find some good calf skin, was in your part of the world long ago.. cattle all over the place, as well as beautiful leather from the same source.

If it's hard to find, do a google search for leather supplies in Rio, you should find something there. I'd imagine synthetic would be ok, but not positive. What you require is quite small.

The leather I used came from a jacket my father had made. You might check a second hand store for a well worn leather garment, which would work well.

Danny
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Marius Mellebye
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Marius Mellebye » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:41 pm

eBay is full of small suede leather pieces for almost nothing.. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=su ... t&_sacat=0

I´m not sure how sharp that knife is, but I would believe that it would be easier to cut unwanted cuts in synthetic than real suede.. just a thought.

Marius :-)
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Dan Seese
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Dan Seese » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:27 pm

You know, I have a gilder's cushion but almost never use it. (Of course I don't have one of those handy knives to use with it.)

I always leave the right side of fingernail on the middle finger of my right hand grow a little long. When I'm gilding I fold over the tissue paper which separates the leaves. That protects the leaf underneath from my finger and then I run my fingernail along the leaf to score it before I lift it from the book with my gilder's tip.

Maybe a bit primitive. And as I describe it, I admit that sometimes this ends up giving an undesirable score line to the leaf below. But it works for me and it's all contained right there without any ancillary devices.
Dan
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pat mackle
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by pat mackle » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:10 pm

Well anyway, here are the words, at least until I can figure out why I can't get the photo to upload.

Speaking of memories, I've been sorting out some old photos lately and though some here might like this one.
Rick Glawson had called me to do a little wheel cutting on a piece he was making to grace the cover of Signs of the Times magazine.
The issue was to contain a section about his revival of angel gilding. In the preceding months we had spent several very late nights in his shop reading and
rereading Bruno Schweig's chapter on the Andres formula. One of those late nights after rereading and reinterpreting the formula, we called it a night and moved out into the office where Rick plopped down into a favorite dingy big stuffed tan colored arm chair. He often slept the night there in that old body hugging chair, even though he rented an old apartment room right across the street!
As we sat there, I marveled at the many old surviving advertising signs and fragments of time ravaged signs, each baring examples of the profuse use of silver, gold and pearl designed to draw the alerted customer into the advertised trade or service. I couldn't help but wonder how could all these examples ever come together in one place again. After all those years. My mind boggled at the thought of having a long enough life to try to do it again from scratch. Where would you even begin? As I sat there in silent awe, my eyes scanning the walls, overly wedged bookshelves, piled table tops and antique drawing boards leveled out to hold even more ephemera, a question formed in my mind. I was startled to realize my deep thoughts broken by my own voice.
"Do you have insurance on all this stuff? What would you do if a fire or even an earthquake happened?" Rick just sat there, his eyes taking a quick glance around the room. He replied, " It would be alright, nothing would happen."
With that my mind returned to my imagined horror of the loss of such a treasure. At that moment my thinking turned into a soul gripping gasp as a thunderous roar erupted in my ears and my eyes rapidly raced around the office walls as I watched all the once motionless gilded frames dancing on their wires, their wavy old hand blown glass surfaces showing new reflections across the room.
It ended almost as soon as it had begun. Like a terrified child, I turned to Rick as if to seek a conformation on his face of the horrifying seismic thing that had just occurred. As my head turned to find him still nestled comfortably within that old tan chair, my alarmed eyes managed to focus back onto his face. He calmly sat there with his fingers still interlaced and calmly answered my original question with only two words. "You see?"
Pat

BruceJackson
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by BruceJackson » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:56 am

I made one only about a month ago.

Till now, I've always just gilded straight from the book, although I use a blade instead of a fingernail. I needed one for a recent job, so I cut a suitable size piece of MDF. Size is not critical as long as it's big enough to hold a couple of leaves. Mine is 210mm x 150mm. Rummaged around for some scrap leather in my wife's collection of materials. Found some chrome-tanned cow leather that was used for some furniture with a nice fine suede back. I laid a sheet of plastic packing foam...approx 2mm thick to give it some spring. Exact same size as the board. Then stretched the leather over it, stapled on the underside, working from the center of each edge out to the corners, like you would for stretching an art canvas.

Then trim and folded the corners neatly and stapled them down too. Next, I glued a sheet of non-slip material on the back to cover the staples and provide it with a nice base. Decided I didn't need a handle, because i just leave it on my bench. Finally, rub whiting (chalk powder) into the surface of the suede so the gold doesn't stick and is easy to manipulate. Blow off the excess whiting and burnish the suede down. Works beautifully.

For cutting the gold, i use a 4 inch razor (scraper) blade and tape a piece of a card to it for a handle.

As for suede...Forget anything synthetic. A soft chamois (for polishing) suede would be a nice surface, but my be too thin and soft and easily cut. Vegetable tanned leather is as tough as old boots (literally!) and will last a lifetime, but may be a bit too coarse. Chrome tanned leather, such as used in clothes and upholstery, is softer and comes in prettier colors. I don't think the type of animal matters as much as the softness and smoothness of the surface.

Anthony Bennett
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Anthony Bennett » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:10 am

Thanks for the manufacturing insights guys.

Dale Johnson
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Dale Johnson » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:17 pm

I am new to gold leaf work. Can anyone tell me just what is a "Gilders Cushion" used for. I usually lay the leaf then run a soft brayer roller over it. It seems to work.

Thanks,, Dale Johnson, Ormond Beach FL

Tyler Tim
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Tyler Tim » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:36 pm

Dale

A gilder's cushion is one tool use when less then a full sheet of gold is needed. You'd transfer the leaf to the GC and then use the gilders knife to part it off. If you have a look at the Mayer video thread from Dave Smith, he at few points uses a cushion. Well worth the time to watch.
Sure I paint thing for my amusement and then offer them for sale. A brushslinger could whither en die from lack of creativity in this plastic town my horse threw a shoe in. :shock:

Dale Johnson
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Dale Johnson » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:51 pm

I watched the Dave Smith video and was really impressed plus I learned a few things. I am gonna make one.

Thanks for the guidance, Dale Johnson

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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Lee Littlewood » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:20 pm

The gilder's cushion seems to be more European than American - Ray LeBlanc does not even mention it, and he is pretty wide-ranging. I made mine when taking a class in manuscript illumination: most of the time you are using pieces about 1/8" square, so being able to cut the leaf up was important. Since then I have found a few signpainter uses for it, such as cutting thin strips when you are gilding, well, thin strips. Or when you are doing incised letters, say vee-cut tombstones: lay two leaves down on the cushion on top of each other, then cut them into pieces. The pieces will (mostly) hold together at their edges, and you can lift a doubled piece of leaf with a brush and push it into the sized vee-groove - the first layer will hang up when it touches the size, but the second will slide in and go to the bottom of the groove.

People who learned on the cushion seem to like it a lot - I saw a movie of the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and they mentioned that they brought over a gilder from France to do the torch. The torch flame looked about six feet tall, and he was gilding it with a tip, using a cushion.

This is from "Practical Gilding, Bronzing, Lacquering, and Glass Embossing" by Fredk. Scott-Mitchell, London, 1914. It is a funky xerox copy that the Society of Gilders was selling. Note also the knife, which they require to have a straight edge to the blade, I've never figured out why.
GilderCush.jpg
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It looks pretty much like Dave Smith's setup, from his video:
Smith Cushion2.jpg
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where am i? Now, when i need me...

Julio Cesar Germano
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Julio Cesar Germano » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:32 pm

Hey there, just an update.

Surprisingly I still haven't gotten my hands on any sueded leather...
A little disappointing and frustrating to be honest.

I thought about something though. What about some well worn denim? As it gets old it smooths out and is quite the strong fabric. I bought me a gilder's knife and it glides over the average pair of jeans rather nicely. Anybody can think of a reason not to try it?

Best of luck in all endeavours.

Júlio César
I've started calligraphy as a hobby a couple of years ago and, from there, stumbled upon
the wonderful world of lost arts - pinstriping, chalkboard art, hand-lettering and sign making.

From Brazil.

Julio Cesar

Julio Cesar Germano
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Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:14 pm
Location: Maringá - PR - Brazil
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Julio Cesar Germano » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:57 am

At last....

After a very kind donation of chamois leather by Mr. Terry Colley and a couple of months delay due to excessive work, here it is...
It was quite simple doing it and It will hopefully serve me well for quite a long time. It is 15x21 and I haven't spread whiting on top of it yet. :D

One last question: Has anyone had any trouble cutting imitation leaf? Is there a trick to it? I tried it and it went poorly to say the least. Rolled the bloody thing into a nice little ball with the knife O.o. I'm assuming it's because of the lack of whiting, but am dead scared of ruining my precious real gold...

Thank you once again for the insights and a very special thanks to Terry who sent me the leather and quite a few brushes to get started with.

Sorry about the crappy camera angles.

Edit: I haven't come close to finding suede leather around here... go figure...
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I've started calligraphy as a hobby a couple of years ago and, from there, stumbled upon
the wonderful world of lost arts - pinstriping, chalkboard art, hand-lettering and sign making.

From Brazil.

Julio Cesar

Robare M. Novou
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:49 pm

Nice Cushion...although you will have to learn how to make better hospital corners.
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by erik winkler » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:45 pm

Hospital corners:
photo 1
photo 2
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Julio Cesar Germano
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Re: Making my own gilder's cushion.

Post by Julio Cesar Germano » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:57 pm

So that's how you fold those corners!! :shock:
Does it make a difference or is it just aesthetic? I hope it's fine the way it is... some of the corners are pretty tight...

Thank you for the images eric!
I've started calligraphy as a hobby a couple of years ago and, from there, stumbled upon
the wonderful world of lost arts - pinstriping, chalkboard art, hand-lettering and sign making.

From Brazil.

Julio Cesar

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