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16th. Century Venetian gilded tabernacle frame with hand cut and carved mouldings.

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Adam W.

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The gesso sottile is on, about 10 coats in all. It was a bit laborious to prepare but ended up being the best gesso I've used so far, very smooth and easy to apply.

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I'm finally getting to like the frame and it's satisfying to see it coming together after so much research and modelling work

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The light is bouncing around on the top cornice of the predella and lighting up the grotesque ornament nicely. I intend to leave the gilding burnished, as I want to see how the frame lights up in candle light, which would have been the original intention in the 16th. Century.

The current fashion is to distress the gilding and tone it down, as we view frames in artificial light which makes the gilding seem harsh. I made a partiglia test panel a few weeks ago and photographed it in candle light and I think it looks lovely.


Pastiglia candlelight.jpg



Much warmer and easier on the eye than when viewed in artificial light.

Pastiglia Final.jpg


Next up a few coats of bole before gilding.
 

ecokestove

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I was taught water gilding, gesso, etc and I know what a time consuming and exacting (and exasperating} process it is. I think you've done an astonishing job. Frankly, the gilding and faulting would drive me mad.
 

MARK.B.

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Got to say that looks great (y) , you must have the patience of a saint doing all that detailed work, way way beyond my capabilities and patience:cry: but i really enjoy seeing how its done and you have the nack of explaining what you are doing and the reasons why :).
 

Adam W.

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Thank you, it's a lot of work as you rightly say, but I'm really enjoying myself... in a sloooow kind of way.

I guess it keeps the madness at bay.

After 1 hours mortar work the bole clay is ground to a fine dust. It comes in all sorts of natural colours and I'm using yellow for the base coat which supports the gold leaf. The bole gives the leaf a cushion against the hard gesso and enables a high burnish to be achieved on the work. It also hides any misdemeanors and discrepencies due to slack finishing of the gesso.



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It also tones the gold leaf a little. I'll put some red bole on top of the yellow in places where I'll be burnishing and leave the yellow layer in the background which will receive the punchwork. It's mixed with dilute hide glue as a binder and needs to be kept warm when in use.

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It lives in a bain Marie to keep it warm and fluid, otherwise it'll thicken and will be impossible to apply in a smooth layer. Once it's like a thin paint, it's simply brushed on to the gesso layer of the frame.

I use a 1" red sable cats toungue brush to apply it which is hideously expensive and only comes out on special occasions. Gilders have a thing about eyewateringly expensive brushes made of exotic materials and care needs to be taken with the handling, cleaning and storage of these valuable tools.

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I'll apply 4 coats to half of the frame, then turn it upside down and do the other half when it's dry so as not to drip bole all over the frame when I'm applying it to the underside of the cornice.


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I'm applying quite thick coats of bole as I've heard tales of people being able to burnish 400 year old work back to a high finish. I think this is because historic bole was applied in much thicker coats than modern gilding technique calls for.

This may have something to do modern work having more in common with the highly finished carved and joined work of the Victorians than renaissance Venetians, but this is a bit of a theory that I'm experimenting with rather than factual evidence.

So we'll see what happens in a few days time and hopefully it won't all flake off into a heap on the floor at the end of the day.
 

Adam W.

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Moving along.

Loads of sanding, fettling and general lamenting on my shoddy handiwork today.

It's up on an easel so that I can flip it over when I want to and attention is being paid to all the small blemishes, drips and discrepancies that you get with stuff like this and I'm going through the wet and dry quite nicely.

It's one of those jobs where you don't seem to be getting anywhere. Tomorrow will see a change in colour with the red bole making an appearance and I need to do a bit of research into making glair for the gilding.

I'm glad I put the dentiles higher up than they should be now, as I like the shadow they cast on the bar below which doesn't interfere with the arabesque on the entablature frieze. I think the blue of the LED lights is changing the colour quite radically at the moment, but it's interesting seeing the way the changing light picks out all the different details.

Hopefully it's going to sparkle in the candle light once it's gilded and I want those flat surfaces to shine like the sun, so they meed to be blemish free and as flat as possible.

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Here's a nice one from the Lady chapel in Westminster with its 15th century painting.




lady-chapel-high-altar.jpg


 
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ecokestove

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What will you be using the glair for? My, limited, understanding is that it is used for masking off parts that you don't want the leaf to stick to. Isn't it just egg white?
 

Adam W.

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That's right, slightly fermented egg white.

As far as I know it's mixed in with the gilding water in a very small quantity to act as an adhesive. Apparently, but it may not be the case, glair was used instead of rabbit skin glue in renaissance Italy.

I've yet to prove it was so, so a load of research is needed.

But I could well be wrong.
 

Adam W.

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I need to get a move on now, as I'm going to try to get on a plane with it to take it to London.

I've ditched the glair, although I'll use it next time and I've gone for neat potato snapps instead. It seems to be working ok and evaporates quickly and without residue, as it doesn't contain loads of sugar.


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That big flat sill kicks the light back at the sight edge moulding quite nicely and the sides of the pilasters should do the same if I get them smooth enough.

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I'll gild the predella (the frieze at the bottom) and then flip it over and work downwards from the sill. Hopefully I won't run out of gold.

I should be about half way by the end of today, as I'm getting quicker as the day goes on and should be slapping it on quite nicely this afternoon.

It's going to be very bling, bling!
 

foxbat

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You're not! This is chuffing amazing!! Almost there and can't wait to see it in place :)
 

Adam W.

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I changed the potato snaps out for some vodka as I think the snapps has a bit of sugar in it which makes it difficult to burnish.

The vodka seems better, but it evaporates quickly and I need to be quick getting the gold on. Apparently gin is good but someone drank that.

So the sun comes streaming through the lantern on the roof and the thing lights up. I'm convinced that these frames were as magnificent as possible as they served as the boundary between secular and sacred spaces.

When I get a bit more time, I'll explain my thinking on that.



IMG_0587.JPG



IMG_0591.JPG
 
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Adam W.

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I'll divide this into a couple of parts.


A bit of art history.

The depiction of the sacra conversazioni is a big deal in North Italian renaissance art. Below is the San Zaccaria altarpiece painted in 1505 by Giovanni Bellini, which depicts the Madonna and child flanked by St. Peter the Apostle, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Lucy and St. Jerome.

The virgin martyrs are both carrying palm fronds, the symbol of martyrdom and both hold their instruments of torture. St peter on the left holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven and St Jerome, credited with translating the bible reads a book.


Bellini San Zaccaria Altarpiece 1505 Venice .jpeg


The virgin sits on a throne in a niche with ornamental pilasters crowned with typical Venetian capitals. The throne is crowned by a mask which is thought to be King Solomon.


c0e96eea1edb9abedfafc05000dd1ee0aa695fb8.jpg


The architectural details of the throne and the niche are all represented in the tabernacle frame and if you crop the Virgin and Child you get this.......


7c14465637a4c97f082425d94fd17bd3ba9bdf9e.jpg


Which looks a bit like the painting in the lady chapel altar at Westminster.........Dinners ready.
 

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dzj

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This has become the first thread I check out when I log on here.
Thanks for taking the time to enlighten a bunch of benighted blighters. :)
 

Adam W.

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I've moved on to the sight edge and stepped down a karat. I've done this because I want to save all the 24 karat Italian gold for the larger areas.

The sight edge is the only area which gets 3 layers of gold, as the pearls would be too fiddly to fault and overlapping the sheets is a much easier way of ensuring a decent coverage.

IMG_0608.JPG


I've got the frame up on an easel so that it's at a good height for gilding and I don't need to bend over the frame if it was laying on the bench. There's a small shelf on the front which carries the gilding tools and book of gold leaf on the right.


IMG_0610.JPG


I'm using an assortment of brushes. The two flat brushes with the card handles are the tips and are used to pick up and apply the gold. They need to have a bit of oil on them, so I'm constantly rubbing them across my face before picking up the gold. The wide one is made from kolinsky hair.

The three fat brushes are squirrel hair in genuine goose quills and are used to tamp the gold down onto the details. These brushes aren't cheap and deed to be looked after, as I don't want to have to buy them again.

All the gilding action starts on the cushion which has a velum wind shield to protect the leaf from blowing away. Even though I'm using extra thick gold. any draught sends it flying and if you look at it the wrong way it disintegrates into nothing.

It gets laid out flat on the cushion and I cut it into strips with a gilding knife. This needs to have a very smooth and half sharp edge to cut the gold without tearing it to bits. It's taken me four days of tuning to get it to cut nicely.

I think it cuts about right now and I can slice a whole sheet into 4mm squares without it tearing or crumpling up.

It's funny old stuff as you need to be fairly firm with it to get it to behave, but not rough as it just turns to dust.

IMG_0611.JPG



Once it's cut into strips I just work around the frame laying it on with a 2mm overlap and then tamping it down before the vodka evaporates completely. The vodka activates the hide glue in the bole and gesso which sticks the gold down.

IMG_0612.JPG


The rose detail of the sight edge has recieved one coat and I'm thinking that I might colour the background with azurite instead of faulting it and having it completely gold.

The two different types of gold are supposed to have different colours, but this is very subtle and I can't really see it because of the reflected light from the other parts of the frame.
 

paulrbarnard

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I've moved on to the sight edge and stepped down a karat. I've done this because I want to save all the 24 karat Italian gold for the larger areas.

The sight edge is the only area which gets 3 layers of gold, as the pearls would be too fiddly to fault and overlapping the sheets is a much easier way of ensuring a decent coverage.

View attachment 115333

I've got the frame up on an easel so that it's at a good height for gilding and I don't need to bend over the frame if it was laying on the bench. There's a small shelf on the front which carries the gilding tools and book of gold leaf on the right.


View attachment 115335

I'm using an assortment of brushes. The two flat brushes with the card handles are the tips and are used to pick up and apply the gold. They need to have a bit of oil on them, so I'm constantly rubbing them across my face before picking up the gold. The wide one is made from kolinsky hair.

The three fat brushes are squirrel hair in genuine goose quills and are used to tamp the gold down onto the details. These brushes aren't cheap and deed to be looked after, as I don't want to have to buy them again.

All the gilding action starts on the cushion which has a velum wind shield to protect the leaf from blowing away. Even though I'm using extra thick gold. any draught sends it flying and if you look at it the wrong way it disintegrates into nothing.

It gets laid out flat on the cushion and I cut it into strips with a gilding knife. This needs to have a very smooth and half sharp edge to cut the gold without tearing it to bits. It's taken me four days of tuning to get it to cut nicely.

I think it cuts about right now and I can slice a whole sheet into 4mm squares without it tearing or crumpling up.

It's funny old stuff as you need to be fairly firm with it to get it to behave, but not rough as it just turns to dust.

View attachment 115336


Once it's cut into strips I just work around the frame laying it on with a 2mm overlap and then tamping it down before the vodka evaporates completely. The vodka activates the hide glue in the bole and gesso which sticks the gold down.

View attachment 115337

The rose detail of the sight edge has recieved one coat and I'm thinking that I might colour the background with azurite instead of faulting it and having it completely gold.

The two different types of gold are supposed to have different colours, but this is very subtle and I can't really see it because of the reflected light from the other parts of the frame.
Wow
 
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