First Year – Gilding with Rian Kanduth

Rian’s gilding module introduces oil gilding and water gilding, both essential skills in Conservation. To learn these gilding techniques, our first year students are using the moulds of fruit or vegetables that they have created in previous woodcarving and joinery modules.

Oil gilding can provide a beautiful surface coating of matte gold. The process is quicker and less labour intensive than water gilding. In many situations it is as durable as water gilding and uses the same gold leaf. Oil gilding must be applied to a completely sealed surface. First an oil size is applied to the surface. Sizes are now made of many different materials but most commonly are a boiled linseed oil. The applied oil is allowed to dry (oxidise) in a dust-free environment until the proper tackiness is achieved. Then the gold leaf is applied.

Water gilding is a porous substrate (typically wood) covered with gesso (usually a mix of calcium carbonate and animal-hide glue), covered with bole (a mixture of clay and animal or fish-based glues), and covered with a layer of gold leaf held to the bole by organic animal or fish-based glues. This golden surface can then be left matte or burnished to a mirror-like sheen. Water gilding is typically much more labour intensive than oil gilding but is also capable of achieving a more refined surface and sheen. Consequently it has been reserved for more expensive objects which are seen and experienced at more intimate distances.


If the page is not loading correctly, please update your browser to the latest version.