Illustrated Architecture Dictionary.........................Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary


Decorated with a thin application of gold or gold paint

Used by the Egyptians.

Gilt: past tense and past participle of gilded

Oil-gilding: This is the laying of gold leaf on the wood using gold-size, which is a form of varnish. The process of gilding is several thousand years old.

Gold leaf: Gold beaten into extremely thin sheets used especially for gilding

Mirror Gilding in Early America Furniture

The method of gilding all frames, either partially or wholly, was the same. It was done only with gold leaf prepared in sheets about two by three inches in size. All gold leaf was made of pure gold, beaten tissue thin between leather skins with heavy mallets.

A gilding compound applied paintlike with a brush was never used. Such gold paints have no real gold in their mixture and are a mid-nineteenth-century invention.

For gold leafing, the portion to be gilded is first coated with gesso (whiting and glue mixed in water) to make the surface smooth. When dry, it is painted with a light coat of "tack" varnish which makes the gold leaf adhere readily.

After the leafing is finished, the frame is rubbed with small bats of lamb's wool which tightens the bond of gold leaf and tack and removes loose, overlapping fringes of the metal sheets.

Finally, the parts intended for a bright finish are burnished.

- Thomas H. Ormsbee, Field Guide to Early American Furniture, 1951

See also:

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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