Exterior Gilding - How to grain fill

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Duncan Ainslie
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:29 am
Location: Scotland, UK

Exterior Gilding - How to grain fill

Post by Duncan Ainslie » Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:58 am

Hi all,

I've just come across this forum with a bit of googling and I'm hoping you may be able to help with a lettering project.

I've carved a house sign for my parents in European White Oak, and have tried a bit of gilding on the letters (which are incised Roman). My Grandpa taught me the letter cutting and was hoping to teach me gilding, unfortunately he passed before we got round to it and going what he'd told me verbally doesn't give good results.

I've given the wood a coat of Chestnut brand Shellac based sanding sealer, and then using an oil based gilders size tried applying the leaf to the letters. However, the grain has still got too much texture and the leaf ends up looking very rough and glittery. It looks like I need some sort of Gesso or Bole to fill the grain. However, I'm not sure what the best order would be for each stage, or how well Gesso/Bole will work outdoors.

So two main questions:

1) What actually is Gesso/Bole - can I mix my own? It sounds like it's mostly linseed oil, whiting and pigment. If I use oil is it suitable for external use?

2) What order should I apply the various materials. I was planning to try a yacht varnish to finish the sign in the hope it will keep its colour and definition (previous attempts with an oil finish silvered very quickly and became hard to read). Should I apply the gesso/boule, then the gold leaf, then the yacht varnish? Or is the gold perhaps best going on last, on top of the varnish?

Hopefully someone here can advise!

Regards,

Duncan

Doug Bernhardt
Posts: 1021
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:29 am
Location: Ottawa Canada
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Re: Exterior Gilding - How to grain fill

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:06 pm

Hi Duncan,
Although I've never used the gesso process I do know about it and think it's un-necessary. Really you just need to get more finish on this project and unless the carving left lumps etc it should smooth out nicely. My gilding is always done over about 4 coats of paint and although I do lose a little detail it's smooth and durable. It goes without saying that you don't want anything over your gold

Duncan Ainslie
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:29 am
Location: Scotland, UK

Re: Exterior Gilding - How to grain fill

Post by Duncan Ainslie » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:12 am

Sorry for the slow follow up, I've been away a bit recently and not had time or computer access.

Doug, so would you recommend paint to smooth things over, or do you even apply the gilding to bare wood? It sounds like maybe I should try applying the varnish to fill the grain then apply the leaf - will I need to key the surface of the varnish to get the gold to bind to it?

I've been using Le Franc 3 Hour oil-based size (http://www.goldleafsupplies.co.uk/acata ... ml#SID=723) giving it a little over the hour to tack - mostly based on the comments in the description there. I'm wondering if perhaps it might be an issue with the size and the tack rather than the surface?

I've added a few pictures below to show what I'm working with and the results so far. The letters are about 2" high, hopefully you can see what I mean about the gold looking a bit 'glittery', though maybe I'm expecting too perfect results? The close up does highlight that my carving perhaps isn't as neat and clean as it could be in places too!

http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h36 ... 30_HDR.jpg
http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h36 ... 26_HDR.jpg
http://i1106.photobucket.com/albums/h36 ... 744877.jpg

Doug Bernhardt
Posts: 1021
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:29 am
Location: Ottawa Canada
Contact:

Re: Exterior Gilding - How to grain fill

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:03 pm

Hi again....firstly you would never gild without preparing your panel with some sort of sealant as you'll have all the troubles I see with what you're doing. If I were doing this I would
1/ Clean it all up and get it back to original finish. There are volumes of books written on finishing wood and every use has a recommended technique. Outdoor or indoor etc etc
2/ If you're using varnishes (a worrisome method) add at least a couple of coats. Lets remember we are working towards an attractive finished piece and the gold is just the icing on the cake.
3/ Timing your tack for gold is a huge error. You need to look for the "Right" tack which is an almost dry feel or "whistle tack" as they call it. There's a ton of info here on this process but the long and short is you're drowning the leaf as it is far to wet if the photos are a good indication.
I use a 12hr size which I put on at about 3pm and gild when I get to the shop in the morning. It's usually good for long after that and even if there's too much size on I have the whole day.
Not to confuse things....There are exceptions of course like how dry is the weather and the time of year but as always a test in advance solves large problems later. I do it all the time and have been at this for a little over 40 years. No shame in being sure something works.

Think thats the best I can do without sitting over your shoulder....lets see how you make out

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