Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Gilding of a Wooden Sculpture

A gallery opening this week will be including an oil gilded silver leafed frame I did for a painting of Napolean by friend and colleague Paul Conrad (Napolean looks suspiciously like Paul himself, but that's another story). The show this weekend will also be presenting a recent sculpture that Paul and I collaborated on, a wood statue of sorts which we call Peace Man.

The statue is about 4 feet tall and was covered with pastiglia, a method of dripping gesso on to a surface to create raised areas that can then be water gilded. After Paul drooled this dripping gesso all over the surface we let it dry until we could cover those sections with red clay bole.

After the bole dried, I gilded each of these sections with various layers of gold leaf: 22.9k from France, 23k from China, 23k from Italy, 23k from England, and 22k from the US, representing some element of world cooperation. I would have liked to have used leaf from other countries as well but in this modern world, deadlines exist. But hopefully the germ of the idea will come through somehow.

Once the leaf was laid, it was burnished and then shellaced for protection. A black casein was then flowed over the entire sculpture, including the gold leaf, the reason for the protective shellac layer. The water soluable casein was then removed, revealing the bright gold leaf underneath. Once again, clear shellac, which I make from shellac flakes and ethyl alcohol, was coated over the casein to seal it.

For additional complexity, Paul and I sprinkled Mars Violet and French Ultramarine Blue pigment over the blackened surface which became a flurry of color as it was mixed with a final brushed-on coat of shellac.
The result: Peace Man

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