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!
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/
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
These stylish helmets are the world’s first helmets to feature Elite Diamond Concept coating and 24 carat gold leaf finishing and are a result of a collaboration between Liquid Colour Design and artist Bradon Seaber, a long time friend of LCD.
Liquid Colour Design are a bespoke paint shop and studio and recipients of the 2017 House of Kolor Prestigious Painter award in 2017. In their studio, located in the village of Ballycarry, Co. Antrim, Iain Baldwin oversaw the application of the luxurious paint finish and the gold leaf. Working to designs produced by Brandon Seaber Designs both the red and blue helmet were produced over a period of two weeks.
The coating protecting the paint work and the gold leaf is a highly specialised coating produced by Elite Diamond Concept. This uniquely shiny and extra-tough finish incorporates glass and diamond flakes to make for an incredible finish. This Elite Diamond Concept Coating was developed for high-end interiors, such as luxury yachts and jet aircraft!
The bespoke paint and gold leaf finish on these helmets was designed for renowned Italian racing driver, Raffaele Marciello. He’s not the first driver Iain’s studio has painted helmets for, previous clients include former F1 driver Martin Brundle and WRC driver Kris Meeke! In addition, Iain’s specialist studio also handles other vehicle artwork, including bespoke liveries for trucks, cars and aircraft.
Kensington Gilders, a longtime customer of ours, have recently completed another prestigious project. The client they’ve added to their portfolio of high-profile and high-end work is none other than the British Museum. As part of their ongoing restoration and refurbishment of the Chinese and South Asia room they called upon Kensington Gilders for their gilding expertise. The goal of the project was to gild the large walls of the room to create a stunning backdrop for the exhibition of the collection of amazing antiquities.
The complex project took place over many months and presented several unique challenges. First, was matching the freshly gilded gold with the old gilding. For this project we supplied only the finest, superior quality 23.5ct gold transfer leaf manufactured in Italy. Matching gilding like this can prove a real challenge, particularly when the original gilding is old. The expertise of Kensington Gilders rose to the challenge and showed itself. They were able to meticulously select glazes and varnishes to apply over the leaf to match the new gilding to the old.
Another challenge was the ongoing works happening around them! Gilding is a precise craft and requires clean surfaces and conditions for the best effect. Dust and grime contaminating the gold size can lead to flawed, or even flaking gilding. Despite working amongst the ongoing renovation and other tradespeople making dust they were able to deliver a superb job. The key to this was the perseverance and will to succeed and deliver a perfect job from all the members of the team at Kensington Gilders.
This project was overseen by Forcia, who were able to successfully coordinate the mammoth undertaking. The completion of the project was on time for its grand opening by Queen Elizabeth II and is now open to the public.
“I was extremely pleased with the service provided by Kensington Gilders. They worked very hard on a tricky site, under less than ideal conditions, but have left us with a superb end product. Their good humour and perseverance was extremely well received, and the dedication to their craft is evident in the high quality work that they produced.”
Jonathan Lubikowski – Project Manager – British Museum.
If you would like to see more of the magnificent work Kensington Gilders have done over the years or if you are interested in learning more about the company itself then you can visit their website at kensingtongilders.co.uk
Visiting Decorex International is always something to look forward to each year – a chance to catch up with clients and to meet new faces in the design world. There are so many great design ideas on show and we always come away feeling very inspired and upbeat. And the location, Syon Park in Brentford, couldn’t be lovelier!
This year will be special for a number of reasons. Apart from Decorex celebrating its 40th year, we are also very excited to be involved with the consultation and supply of gold leaf for part of the magnificent chandelier which will be the centrepiece of the Decorex Champagne Bar designed by award winning designer Shalini Misra in collaboration with Clartes of Bohemia and Erfre of London. The theme for the exhibition this year is the celebration of the Great British exhibition in 1851, the first international exhibition of manufactured products so we are looking forward to an elaborately decorated Champagne bar!
The gilded wooden parakeets making up part of the huge chandelier called “Paradise Fountain” were expertly carved and gilded by one of our clients, master carver and gilder Paul Wilson (@paulwilson_woodcarver_gilder). Paul has over 30 years of knowledge and experience with traditional gilding methods and has worked on the most prestigious projects around the world including the Royal Households and the restoration of Windsor Castle to name a few.
Following the lead from fashion Industry brands like Armani and Net-a-porter this month who are going fur-free, the gilder’s brief was to produce a high gloss gilded finish without the use of any animal products, so the rabbit-skin glue often used in traditional water gilding methods was a no-no.
The challenge from top designer, Theo Vanderzalm – who is coordinating the design of the Chandelier, was for Paul to create a high gloss gilded finish but to keep the project entirely vegan. Here, following consultation, we recommended an alternative gold size – Instacoll by Kölner! After many years of research, they formulated a secret recipe that does not use any animal products, yet performs extremely well, producing either a very high gloss gild or elegant matt gild. Instacoll stands the test of time and as proof, is used extensively for exterior gilding projects – The statue of Victoria on top of the Victory column in Berlin, gilded using Instacoll Gloss is a perfect example, having been gilded over 20 years ago.
Paul, who is entirely used to traditional gilding techniques took up the challenge and mastered the technique of Instacoll application producing the fabulous results below. He was very circumspect about the product at first but had to admit that the results were very good and he would certainly use this size for specific projects in the future. At Gold Leaf Supplies we aim to offer gilders a wide range of materials to work with to suit all projects. Kölner gilding products are not designed to replace traditional water gilding or oil gilding techniques but as a complement to them and so we offer the complete range. The carved and gilded parrots do indeed show off the Instacoll product and its outstanding capabilities.
The gold leaf used in this project was chosen for its excellent quality and perfect tone to match in with other elements of the chandelier – German caplain leaf manufactured by Noris Blattgold in Schwabach, Germany. The managing director at Noris confirmed that there are no animal products used now in the beating process of the leaf, so the leaf is also vegan!
Well done Paul, you smashed the brief! We can’t wait to see the chandelier all complete and assembled at Decorex this weekend.
Photos of the completed Chandelier to follow in a few days…
It pleases us to announce that starting this month we are now the exclusive UK distributor for Kölner products! Starting from today we will stock and distribute their range of high-end, German-made gilding products.
Our relationship with Kölner started with a workshop in London last winter. An enthusiastic group of our most talented clients braved the freezing weather to take a class in gilding using the Kölner Instacoll Gilding System. Peter Voshart, one of the owners of Kölner demonstrated this and Kölner’s other innovative gilding products. Under his expert tutelage the class was treated to a demonstration of finishes possible using Kölner’s revolutionary products.
Our clients have years of experience with traditional gilding and products. In spite of this, Peters infections enthusiasm and confidence in his product soon swayed even the most dubious of them. The initial apprehension on how well the product would work vanished as soon as Peter guided them through their first application of the Instacoll Gilding system. After laying leaf onto the Instacoll Base all it took was a buff to create a glossy finish. The brightness and gloss of the gilt finish blew them away, even the biggest naysayers!
We were so impressed by Kölner’s products that we needed to know more. One of the directors of Gold Leaf Supplies, Steve Rees, decided to visit the factory in Germany. The staff of Kölner showed the warmest hospitality and offered Steve a guided tour. After touring the factory Steve saw examples of items gilded using the Instacoll Gilding System. The finishes that trained German gilders have created using Instacoll are breathtaking. The visit convinced Steave that Kölner would be an excellent company to work with. Kolner’s staff and directors were friendly and impeccably professional, and their product excellent. The magnificent range of work on display was all the proof that their range would fit well with our client base and existing products.
Kölner’s range of products for gilding is quite broad, with a product for almost any use, including stone, ceramics and more. Their flagship product is the Instacoll Gilding System. This water-based system creates intense high-gloss gilded finishes on both interior and exterior surfaces. For stonemasons we recommend Kölner Rapid Stone. This product designed for stonemasons and letter cutters looking to gild blasted or carved stone. Another specialist product is Kölner Miniatum. It’s designed for use on flexible surfaces such as paper, leather, and vellum – it’s perfect for illuminating manuscripts. If you are looking to gild, or repair previous gilding, on ceramic items then Kölner’s Ceramic Size is the best product for the job. Finally, Kölner Permacoll is a superb, water-based adhesive size. It’s well-suited for large interior projects, such as gilding walls and ceilings.
All the above products mentioned above and more are available for in our online shop. We stock smaller sizes for enthusiasts and hobbyists alongside larger pack sizes for trade users. Our range of products also includes professional quality gilding tools for any gilder.