Applying Gilded Lettering To Interior Wood Doors

Procedure code:
501027S
Source:
National Capitol Region Specifications - Agricul Admin Bldg
Division:
Metals
Section:
Metal Materials
Last Modified:
12/01/2015

APPLYING GILDED LETTERING TO INTERIOR WOOD DOORS

PART 1---GENERAL

1.01 SUMMARY

    A.   This procedure includes guidance on applying gold leaf
         lettering on interior wood doors to match original.

    B.   Gilding is the application of gold or silver leaf to a
         prepared surface to give the illusion of it being solid
         metal.  It can have either a matte finish or a high
         burnished finish.

    C.   See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be
         reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines
         cover the following sections:

         1.   Safety Precautions

         2.   Historic Structures Precautions

         3.   Submittals

         4.   Quality Assurance

         5.   Delivery, Storage and Handling

         6.   Project/Site Conditions

         7.   Sequencing and Scheduling

         8.   General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)

         These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing
         this procedure and should be followed, when applicable,
         along with recommendations from the Regional Historic
         Preservation Officer (RHPO).  


PART 2---PRODUCTS

2.01 MANUFACTURERS

    A.   Gold Leaf Studios, Inc.
          http://www.goldleafstudios.com/

    B.   Lou Reed
          http://reedsgoldleaf.com/

    C.   H. Behlen and Bros.
          http://www.hbehlen.com/

    D.   M. Sift and Sons, Inc.
          http://www.mswiftandsons.com/
 

2.02 MATERIALS

    NOTE: Gold leaf supplies are available from suppliers listed
    under Section 2.01 above.

    A.   Size: Quick or Japan gold size

    B.   Alcohol

    C.   Gesso: Whiting or plaster of paris mixed in an animal
         size glue binder.

    D.   Bole: Mixture of gelatin and gilder's clay.

    E.   Paint: Lampblack ground in Japan, mixed with quick size

    F.   Gilding: Tissue booklet of gold leaf - available in
         "patent" leaf (secured within a book) or "loose" leaf

    G.   Clean, cotton pads

    H.   Clean, potable water

2.03 EQUIPMENT

    A.   Paint brushes

    B.   Gilder's tip - flat brush for lifting sheets of gold leaf

    C.   Soft bristle brush

    D.   Gilder's knife

    E.   Gilder's cushion

    F.   Agate, flint or hematite burnisher


PART 3---EXECUTION

3.01 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION

    A.   Make repairs to wood as required.  See 06400-16-R, 06440-
         01-R and 06440-04-R for guidance in repairing small
         holes, dents and minor imperfections.

    B.   Resecure and repair any loose or damaged wood pieces.
         See 06400-04-R, 06440-02-R and 06440-03-R for guidance.

    C.   Replace any missing or deteriorated wood features.  See
         06400-15-R for guidance.

    D.   Thoroughly clean the surface to be gilded.  For guidance
         on general dusting and maintenance, see 06400-01-P,
         06200-01-P and 06400-01-R.  For guidance on stripping
         paint, see 06400-07-R and 06400-09-R.  See also 06400-10-
         R for additional wood refinishing guidance.

    E.   Apply gesso mixture over wood surface to be gilded to
         smooth out the wood and fill small holes.  Apply in many
         thin layers.  Several coats may be necessary in order to
         sufficiently smooth the surface.

    F.   Apply mixture of gelatin and gilder's clay or "bole" over
         gesso, or apply japan paint over the gesso.

    G.   Make stencils from cardboard to match original lettering
         as closely as possible.

    H.   Lift gold leaf sheet from booklet using a gilder's tip.

    I.   Use the stencils as a guide and cut gold leaf to match
         size, type and style of original lettering using a
         gilder's cushion and gilder's knife.  

    J.   Apply size to area to be gilded.

         1.   For matte finish:  Cover the paint or "bole" with
              shellac; apply a coat of varnish called "gold size"
              to the wood surface.  (This is a slow-drying size)

         3.   For burnished finish: Wet "bole" with a solution of
              1 part alcohol to 4 parts water.  (This is a quick-
              drying size)

    K.   Allow the surface to become tacky.

         1.   For matte finish: Approximately 10-12 hours.

         2.   For burnished finish: Approximately 1-3 hours.

    L.   When the surface has become tacky, position the gold leaf
         and quickly place it over the surface using a gilder's
         tip.

         CAUTION:  If leaf is applied while size is too wet, gold
         will be 'drowned' and burnish will be killed.  If size is
         too dry, leaf will not adhere.

    M.   Smooth out sheets using a soft brush or clean cotton wad;
         save any excess for patching later if necessary.

    N.   Before burnishing (if burnishing), wait 1-3 hours after
         placing the gold leaf.  The gesso and "bole" coating
         needs to reach sufficient hardness before burnishing.

         1.   Burnish carefully using an agate burnisher.  Using
              gentle circular motions, rub the gold leaf using
              slight pressure, gradually increasing pressure to
              make firm strokes in one direction.  Rub
              sufficiently to achieve a dark mirror finish.  

              NOTE: TIMING IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESSFUL BURNISHING.
              THEREFORE, THIS WORK SHOULD BE DONE BY A
              PROFESSIONAL.  If burnishing is performed too soon,
              the gold leaf may mush; if burnishing is performed
              too late, the gold leaf may chip.

    O.   If patching is required, cover surface with diluted
         sizing and add a new leaf as above or use excess leaf
         from previous applications.

                         END OF SECTION

Last Reviewed 2015-12-01