There are many of you reading this who will already be familiar with Richard Walker from Watergild Studios. To date, he has taught well over 500 students the craft of Gilding. Certainly helping to keep gilding off the endangered crafts list – thank you Richard!
We fondly call him our Gilding Guru because there is very little that he doesn’t know about gilding and he is always on hand to help out with any technical queries that we can’t fathom.
As well as being on hand to offer technical support, Richard also offers his expertise in helping us to run the very successful Kolner gilding Workshops. We are the UK distributor for the high-end Kolner range of gilding products and Richard has become our UK specialist, having visited the factory in Germany and familiarised himself with the products, technical team and gilders who use the products frequently. We have been unable to run these workshops during Covid but we have plans to restart them in the Spring/Summer of this year – watch this space!
Richard lives near the historical City of Portsmouth and his gilding studio is situated in Havant, an hour train ride from London. It is from here that he either completes his gilding commissions for clients or is found busy teaching students how to gild. There is no age limit to learning how to gild and Richard has taught children as young as Primary school age and his oldest students have been in their 80s! It is a passion and a way of life for him and he is dedicated to sharing his skills and keeping this beautiful craft alive. Richard has an abundance of funny stories to tell about his experiences as an educator and he makes learning great fun.
As well as teaching personal, introductory and advanced classes from his studio, Richard is also the gilding teacher for full-time furniture students at the Internationally recognised West Dean College of Arts and Conservation near Chichester and the Chippendale International School of furniture near Edinburgh. Whether you wish to learn to gild for pleasure, start a new hobby, create a side hustle or start a fully-fledged business you will be in the best possible hands.
The Watergild Studios website https://watergild.com/ is a fantastic resource for gilders of all levels and an in-depth, very detailed gilding book by Richard is near completion. We literally can’t wait to share this with you and it is something that will add so much to the gilding industry. Alongside this, Richard will be working on putting together some online teaching resources so there are lots of options available to give you the right guidance no matter what level of experience you are.
We don’t know how Richard fits it all in but he also travels widely working on prestigious gilding projects, offering a complete service for any professional gilding requirements with the ability to conduct a full range of gilding services nationally or worldwide.
Gold Leaf Supplies and Watergild Studios have worked closely for many years now and we are thrilled to have our Gilding Guru in our shiny world.
If anyone fancies learning the art of gilding please get in touch with Richard
If you’ve visited our blog before the name Titian Studios might sound familiar to you, from one of our past blog posts, highlighting the versatile skill set of this talented company who specialise in gilding, lacquer work, painted decoration, antique furniture restoration, Verre eglomise, and conservation.
Established in 1963, this family business has built up a wealth of experience and talent, and when it comes to unique or large projects they literally never say never!
Rod, Rosaria, and their team, are long-time clients and friends of ours here at GLS, we’ve supplied leaf for many of their memorable projects including: the Interior gilding of the Dorchester and Sheraton Hotels in central London, the iconic Royal Albert Memorial and a very unusual request for the fashion Industry where they were asked to gild some shoes and garments for a prestigious London fashion show. A very challenging task but also very beautiful, as you can see below.
But for this post we want to shine a light on a show stopping project they completed over the past year or so, on either side of the pandemic which was challenging due to the vast scale and also the issues with continual lock downs. As usual they more than rose to the challenge.
This incredible building, the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick, in the West Midlands, is one of the oldest Gudwaras (a place where Sikhs come together for congregational worship) in the UK and has recently undergone some extensive restoration.
Titan Studios were the gilders in charge of creating the remarkable Gold Leaf finish on the domes of this beautiful Gurdwara – which can be seen for miles!
The domes were delivered to their studio in West London and some of them were enormous – they had to use a crane to get them back into their original place! It’s a good thing they have a large studio space as they soon filled their space with the many domes and mouldings that were in need of their Midas touch.
To create a mirror finish on the leaf, similar to the finish created by water gilding, before they started gilding the team used the popular Kolner Instacoll high gloss Gold size in yellow, to prep the domes and parts of other decorative mouldings for the restoration.
This quality size can be used both indoors and out. It stands up well to the test of time and has been used on many prestigious buildings all over the world.
Once the size was applied, it was time to lay the leaf and with over 1000 books of our 23.5ct Loose Gold leaf to expertly lay, the team was very busy!
The Titan Studios team never shy away from a large project, they were previously involved in the re-gild of the Royal Albert Memorial in London (shown below) this time the leaf was applied on site, you can see Rod here on top of the scaffolding – a gilder also needs a good head for heights sometimes!
Bland Design is an incredible Artist, Gilder & Specialist decorator that’s bringing a fresh approach to gold leafing. With an eye for using paint, gold leaf and a range of other materials to elevate existing spaces with a creative touch.
You might recognise Daniel from this year’s final of the BBC One series Interior Design Masters, which saw him team up with Siobhan Hannah Murphy & Paul Moneypenny, to create a stunning gold leaf gilded staircase mural (photo below).
Or he might look familiar from a recent viral video courtesy of Lad Bible – a popular social media account and online entertainment website.
Daniel’s house is a gilder’s dream, as the Victorian property undergoes an incredible D.I.Y renovation with nearly every room getting a golden touch from the artist. From gold leaf doors to beautiful gold textured designs covering the walls, and even a golden shower – it’s no surprise that the gold leafed house caught the eyes of the team over at Lad Bible.
They recently posted a video of him gilding his entire house in gold leaf on their Instagram and Facebook accounts, putting it in front of over 48 million of their followers.
The video currently has an impressive 13 million views on Facebook and over 2 million views on their Instagram feed.
It’s been a big year for Daniel, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store next for him, and his D.I.Y renovation.
If you are interested in seeing more of Daniel’s work or more of his D.I.Y renovation, you can follow him on his Instagram or check out his website.
A long-standing customer and friend of ours here at Gold Leaf Supplies, Dave Smith, will be running a series of Gold Leaf On Glass Workshops from June 24th through to December.
If you’re looking to learn more about glass gilding, Dave is the man you need to learn from. It would simply be an understatement to call him a creative genius – with over 37 years of experience, he is an incredible artist and designer, that has a brilliant eye for details and creative compositions.
We regularly recommend these courses held at his studio in Torquay, Devon, to our customers as it’s one of the few places where you can learn ALL the skills you need to create authentic “Victorian” reverse glass signs.
There is a selection of 1, 2 and 4-day workshops, with each of the options having different curriculums, so no matter where you are in your glass gilding journey, there’s sure to be a course for you.
1 And 2 Day Workshops
The one-day workshops will run for 12-14 hours (which flies by as they are extremely fun and rewarding), and are suitable for any level of artistic ability, from beginners to the most experienced artists. With smaller class sizes to ensure that full attention is given to each student.
You’ll make two 300 x 300 mm Victorian glass sign letters, as you learn many traditional hand brush techniques needed to paint letters in reverse on gold.
Dave will teach you the following techniques:
Water Gilding (traditional gilding tip and cushion method, other application techniques)
Sign writing in reverse,
Gold leaf blending, water and oil
Mother of Pearl inlay
In the two-day workshop, you’ll cover more techniques, including screen printing, hand lettering in reverse and glass edge scalloping. And will leave with 3 panels that you’ll have made using your new skills.
4 Day Workshop
This workshop is also suitable for beginners and will be limited to only 3 people per workshop due to the current restrictions, because of the pandemic.
Over four 12–15 hour days you will create two themed glass pieces while learning different gilding and painting techniques.
For the first sign, you’ll learn a variety of techniques including:
Water Gilding (traditional gilding tip method and various other application techniques)
The blending of gradients of gold leaf
Wheel cutting and polishing (brilliant cutting)
Abalone inlays (mother-of-pearl)
Incised carved lettering behind glass
Mica colour shading into gold size
Marbling and finger blending
While making the second sign, you’ll learn:
Glass edge scalloping
Glue chipping (1900 process)
Painted silvered background
Brush blending and more.
Interested? We simply can’t recommend these workshops enough, and we’ve heard very high praise from past attendees.
If you book any of the three workshops, you are guaranteed to learn a lot from Dave, which you’ll be able to carry throughout the rest of your gilding career. You can find more information on his website here: https://davidadriansmith.com/gold-leaf-workshops/
You’ve been loving our ever so popular Abalone and Mother of Pearl Shell sheets recently over on instagram, but even more so we’ve loved seeing you using them in your projects. We’ve been tagged in some stunning projects and it’s lovely to see you get creative with the different materials and colours that you’re using.
We know a lot of you are new to using the sheets, or would just like a more in-depth look into selecting the right ones and using them correctly, so we’ve created this complete guide for you.
Grab your tools and read ahead to learn everything you need to know about working with our Abalone and Mother of Pearl Shell sheet
So, What are Abalone and Mother of Pearl Shell sheets?
They’re traditional materials that have been used by craftsmen for centuries, in a variety of different decorative projects. Ours are slightly thinner than the ones that are used for traditional furniture inlay, making them perfect for reverse signwriters that want to add accents to their glass artworks. Since the material is very thin, they have a high level of transparency allowing light to pass through, adding to its decorative effect when used on glass.
They’re also ideal for applying to the front of a variety of surface finishes and decorative projects, allowing you to create the effect of abalone inlays at a cost-effective price, this approach works well for projects on Yachts, in Hotels or for high-end interior projects. Most of the shell’s life is spent in water, so although they would look beautiful outside, having them exposed to the elements outside on exterior projects might not be the best place for them.
Each sheet is made up of smaller strips of the natural shell, layered on top of each other, with every layer finely hand-sawn from an ethically sourced abalone shell and Mother of Pearl. The strips are then colour matched before being bound together by an epoxy resin, giving each sheet a pleasant and consistent colouring.
Some variation might appear from sheet to sheet, making each one unique! So it’s important to remember before ordering that the look and colours of the sheet can change depending on the lighting and angle you’re viewing it at, it’s a natural material so some colour variations can appear. We always recommend creating test pieces when using the sheets before going full-scale on your project.
Some sheets are translucent, and the appearance of colour will vary based on the coloured surface layered underneath the sheet. For example, placing gold under a sheet will create a different effect then if you layered a sheet with blue. Some sheets are backed with colour, which enhances certain patterns, dark or black backings will show the full depth of colour and pattern in all its beauty.
What types of sheets are available?
We stock both our Abalone and Mother of Pearl as single sheets, measuring 24cm x 14cm. Other larger sizes are available to order, we currently offer 200 x 200m, 300 x 300mm. However, if you’re looking for larger sheets we may be able to supply them in some designs, please contact our office to see what we can do for you, our lead time is around 6 to 8 weeks.
There are three different ranges across the sheets, Standard, Premium and Flexible. Sample sheets of our Standard and Premium ranges are available on our website with a sample sheet coming soon for the Flexible sheets. Before you order a sample, let’s take a look at the differences between the three.
The Premium range is slightly thicker, these sheets vary from 0.30mm to 0.55mm, like the standard range the thickness depends on the style and backing.
It’s not just thickness that sets these sheets apart, we handpicked only the most flawless of these shells for the best possible finish.
The strips are colour matched before being bound together by epoxy giving each sheet a beautiful consistent colouring, through variation may be visible from sheet to sheet. The sheets are then coated with a glossy urethane varnish, giving them a silky smooth finish. The varnish also deepens the colours as well as a measure of protection for the shell.
These sheets can be cut with scissors, making them ideal for a wide range of projects, from furniture upcycling to art and surface decoration.
Each sheet has been ultra-thinly cut to, giving them flexibility the thicker sheets don’t have, they’ll conform to curves. The sheets also come supplied with a super-strong self-adhesive backing that will stick to most surfaces.
How do I use them?
If your working with our flexible sheets, they can be cut with scissors and are much easier to work with, but aren’t suitable for all applications, this range also comes with a 3M adhesive backing so you can peel off the paper and stick them directly.
The difficult, but worth it part when working with the standard and premium range sheets is in the cutting. They can be brittle and prone to cracking or breaking if you overstress them. There are three methods of cutting them to shape –
1 – You can use a laser cutting machine, this is the most convenient way of cutting them to your desired size and shape.
2 – Use a scalpel or hobby knife to score the sheet deeply, taking care not to use too much force that could break or crack the sheet. You can then complete the cut on a second pass for a nice, clean-cut finish.
3 – The second option is to soak the sheet in some warm water for 20 to 30 minutes – the heat helps soften the material, making it a little less rigid and brittle. It can then be cut more easily using sharp scissors without it cracking or splitting, it’s even possible to get slight curves in your cutting. When it cools down it should return to normal.
Once you’ve cut the sheets, the standard and premium ranges of abalone and mother of pearl can be stuck to any surface using glues. Superglue (cyanoacrylate glue) is highly recommended, but we’ve seen people use clear varnishes and similar products as a bonding agent. The sheets are quite light so you don’t need a high-strength adhesive to keep them in place if you’re working on a decorative project.
If your working with our opaque shells on a surface that isn’t glass, it’s possible to use two pack adhesives when applying to wood-based surfaces such as PVA or similar products, but try to avoid any adhesives that need a lot of evaporation to harden as the shell doesn’t provide a lot of air.
What about aftercare?
Any coloured shell will fade over time, however, coating the shells in UV resistant varnish will allow it to stick to glass surfaces while also sealing and protecting it from light. The varnish we recommend for this is One-Shot Speed Dry UV Resistant Varnish, but other proprietary UV varnishes will work ok.
Remember to always test a small area of the shell first to make sure any added colour is not affected by the varnish!
If you’re taking care of shell elements, such as small pieces of shell set inside a letter or logo which are attached to the back of glass surfaces, we recommend cleaning extremely carefully using damp chamois leather, to help prevent any unwanted snagging and raised corners or edges.
If the shell has been used in a project for surface decoration, then like any natural material, its best to use non-abrasive and natural cleaning products. Depending on the application, for example, for furniture with a sealed rebated section, nearly any non-abrasive cleaner can be used when paired with a soft cloth.
If you found this blog post useful keep an eye out for more blog posts coming soon. And if you use this guide when working on one of your projects tag us in your posts, we love to see photos and videos of your projects!
The links to our products provided in this blog post are only a guideline for the requirements of a project involving our Abalone and Mother Of Pearl Shell Sheets. Each project may have different requirements and therefore will call for different products to be used.
We are relaunching our “Decorative Plaster” as “Impasto Plaster”. Why are we relaunching? Because we want to make a big thing about how great and versatile this product is and we needed a different word to describe what it did. Hopefully the word “Impasto” will help artists, decorative painters and gilders understand a little more what this product does.
Since we are relaunching we also thought it would be fun to share some techniques with the ever-wonderful GLS customers and show you something of what it can do.
Whitson’s Impasto Plaster is a versatile clay based plaster for adding texture to any decorative finish on interior surfaces. It is easy to use, comes in a neutral base – fully tintable with universal colourants – and dries to a hard, durable film. It can be used to create embossing and textured finishes, can be over-coated with all paints and enhanced with glazes, waxes, gilding and protective topcoats. Alternatively, it can be used as a finish without extra coats if required. It can be polished like a lime plaster too.
Apply with trowel, spatula, sponge or roller to an optimum depth of no more than 1- 2mm at a time to avoid cracking (although you can crack it if you want to… I’ll talk about that later).
The first technique is done using metallic foil beneath, but you could use Roberson’s Liquid Metal to equal effect. We then used 6mm masking tape to mask off the stripes, we laid US style cheesecloth (a sort of open weave muslin) over the surface which has a more open weave than many fabrics however you could use all sorts of fabrics, like lace or a scrim type material or none at all…this is a product definitely worth playing with. Then the plaster was tinted using Mixol colourants and applied with a small trowel. You could also roller it on, just thin it a little with water beforehand. Then we allowed it to set up till it was beginning to become firm. Do test pull away of the cloth, if it goes into nasty peaks it’s too soon. Don’t panic though if it does get peaks you can sand these off.
Finally, we used a white scumble glaze tinted with Polyvine Universal tints, which is a nice clean white.
If you want to encourage cracking then thicker layers can be applied and/or force dried with a hairdryer will give a more dramatic effect. You can also put some crackle glaze underneath it but practice that one first, you can only touch the plaster once as you apply it.
Cracked Plaster Effect
Here are a couple of examples of cracking –
This chest of drawers was primed, and the plaster was trowelled through a stencil. The plaster was then blow dried to encourage cracking. The surface was painted black, sized and we used foil, however you could use a foam roller and silver paint and “dry roller” over the top. It was then glazed with a black glaze (I used Polyvine acrylic glaze tinted with Polyvine tints) and varnished. A stage could have been cut if the plaster had been tinted black.
Because of its unique flexibility this product is perfect for use on flexible substrates like canvas and for off-site application of installation work. This flexibility means it can be applied to a variety of surfaces and shipped to site without concerns of delamination. The acrylic and clay formulation mean there are no concerns with incompatibility with other water-based products.
Here is a finish carried out by Lesley Anne Kinney of Bespoke Decorative Artisans. She has used a patterned croc roller to create the texture, but just check out how flexible this really is.
As this is a clay and acrylic medium – seal any raw substrate with a suitable primer sealer, for already coated surfaces apply Whitson’s Superior Adhesion Primer unless it is coated in an acrylic coating already.
Impasto Plaster dries in 20/30 minutes depending on the thickness of the coat applied.
Once the film feels hard and no longer cold you can recoat the Impasto Palster. To render the plaster scrubbable apply a good quality acrylic varnish.
After use cover the remaining plaster with plastic film and seal up the container, by doing so this material will keep for up 1 year.
Every time we feature a project by Studio Peascod we’re consistently blown away! Emma’s aesthetic design, artistic sense and knowledge of her craft of glass gilding are second-to-none. Nowhere is her mastery of verre eglomise more apparent than in her large, breathtaking installations. These two new completed projects, produced in association with Celia Chu Design & Associates show once more how the traditional art of verre eglomise can be blended with contemporary design to produce works of art!
The Translucent Fireplace
A unique modern fireplace design resulting from the collaboration of Celia Chu and Studio Peascod. This phantom vision of a fireplace, floating suspended in front of a fire is a striking vision that no-one is likely to forget! The idea of a ‘fireplace’ consisting of a gas fire sandwiched between glass panels was dreamt up by Celia Chu. The exclusive apartment called for a unique, contemporary design which this piece more than delivers!
The image of the fireplace is based on a traditional design but done in a way that’s anything but traditional! The ghostly image was created using silver leaf and using Emma’s trademark flair. The verre eglomise incorporates distressing to create an ethereal finish that is both reflective, with areas for the light to shine through. The light colours reflected in the cool silver contrast with the warm orange glow of the gas fire between the panes.
Golden Temple Tiles
In another collaboration with Celia Chu, Studio Peascod have worked together to create these spectacular gilded glass panels. The panels were designed and made for the prestigious Rosewood Bangkok hotel. Celia’s design takes inspiration from traditional Thai heritage and is brought to life through verre eglomise. The gorgeous panels are gilded in a mixture of precious golds in rose, lemon and yellow shades. The mirror finish of the gilded gold, along with the natural shine of the marble helps bounce light around the interior filling it with a light and voluminous feel.
Now available on our website is an innovative new gilding tip – The Richard! This tip breaks with the traditional design of gilders tip. Tips usually have of a strip of long squirrel hair for holding the leaf. Instead The Richard uses a square of suede. This allows the tip to cleanly pick up, support and then release whole squares of gold with little effort.
This new tip is the product of years of experience in gilding and teaching by its creator Richard Walker. Richard is not only a talented gilder but he is also a passionate educator. His website, watergild.com, has a range of useful projects and guides on it and Richard is also available to hire for one-on-one tuition!
The Richard was developed to make gilding quicker and easier, not just for beginners but also for tradespeople and gilders. The suede top is specifically sized to take a whole leaf of gold leaf or other precious metal leaves in an 80 x 80 mm leaf size. The main body of the tip is a piece of solid oak topped with a handle. This gives the tip overall a pleasing heft that aids in the process of both picking up and laying the metal leaves.
Each tip comes in it’s own padded box along with a small tin of Vaseline™ for charging the The Richard.
DKT Artworks are London-based specialists in the production of bespoke artwork as well as contemporary and traditional high-end interior finishes. The craftspeople at company boast a wide range of skills and specialities. The ethos of the company is to champion classical hand-produced arts and crafts with modern CAD and technical design. This mix of time-honoured skills and contemporary thinking has made them sought out by renowned designers. DKT Artworks work has featured in a range of prestigious projects installations – in residential, commercial and marine environments.
The depth of skills and knowledge that DKT Artworks has access to means that when it comes to a project the company can provide original and innovative solutions. Many international designers have retained DKT Artworks for projects. In the course of completing these projects DKT Artworks called upon their expertise to use the techniques of –
verre eglomise and more!
A culmination of DKT Artworks traditional skills with technical design is their modular tile system, Asagao. Named after the Japanese Morning Glory, this floral-inspired tile system boasts a unique profile that can connect together in a range of ways. Designed by DKT Artworks artist Eoin Ryan, the shapes are modular and can be rotated many different ways to create a variety of layouts. The tiles also feature a carved inner design, adding to the organic appearance of the feature.
Once approved, these hand-carved originals had moulds taken of them. These mounds were then used to cast the product in Jesmonite. This material is versatile, resistant to damage and, importantly, compatible with gilding. Once completed the gilders at DKT Artworks gild the centre details of each tile with precious gold, making it an eye-catching focal point. As each tile is hand-gilded this inner detail can be finished in a range of different colours or shades of gold, or left plain. The choice is up to the customer, allowing for a great deal of flexibility and customisation.
To see more of DKT Artworks portfolio and to see their extremely impressive client list then visit dkt.co.uk
Henry van der Vijver and his team of highly skilled artisans are one of the countries best and most sought after specialist finishers. Henry established HVArt in 1988 and the core of the team have been together for well over a decade. With all this experience under their belts the team boasts a wide range of skills and experience. Their skills encompass traditional gilding and marbling to polished plaster, trompe l’oeil, and more.
The team at HVArt has completed many prestigious projects over the years. Because of their professional skills, attitude and commitment to their projects their skills have seen them hired for jobs worldwide. They have completed commissions from as nearby as Jersey and Ireland, to as far away as Saudi Arabia and China and to plenty of other places in between!
The sheer range of finishes that Henry and his team are able to create for their clients is too much for one blogpost. We have picked out some of his most recent and most interesting to share. If you are interested in seeing more of Henry’s portfolio of previous work or more of the specialist finishes his team can create then visit his website hvart.co.uk