Making Gilt FramesGilded frames are previously carved wood frames, which are finished through the gilding process.
The gilding technique was very well known by the ancient civilizations of the East and the West. Since at least 4000 years gold has been used to decorate the wooden surfaces, as well as many other products.
In the past the foils, the so-called gold leaf, could be of various colors from brown to reddish, to white.
Among the ancient civilizations the Chinese and the Egyptian ones used the gilding thousands of years before our era. Also in the Hellenistic world as well as the Latin one the gilding technique and the falsification of gold were very well known.
In the past the gold leaf was manually produced by a craftsman called “battiloro” (to hammer the gold), who made very thin foils by using the hammer and various kinds of other ticks.
As it happens for many craft made activities materials and tools used for preparation and for gilding remained unchanged over the centuries, like the application of the gold leaf and the coating with patina.
The gilding process called "gouache" or water gilding, thus defined because the area previously plastered and with bolus had been watered before the application of gold leaf, is much more complex and requires special working tools: first of all, the gilder pillow, which is made up of a wood tablet of 25x15 cm and is stuffed with foam rubber and coated with tanned leather. Another tool is a knife with a blade of stainless steel, 15cm long and 2cm wide, which is sharp on both sides, to cut the gold leaf; the latter has to be taken and carried with a brush of “vaio”, or marten, whose hair are applied on a rectangular and flat carton; the gold leaf is a very thin yellow-reddish foil of 0.00001 mm and 0.00008 mm thick and is preserved in booklets of 8x8 or 9x9 or even 10x10 and kept by lightweight paper sheets that are coated with red clay.