Get Glowing With Gilded Decor

Gilding was used to add warmth and glow since early times to our homes. Within this craft, good silver, gold, aluminum or aluminum leaf or powder is applied to objects. Though the simple application has remained exactly the same, generations of expert gilders from all over the globe still have different trade secrets regarding the finer methods.

While gilded objects have always had a place in interiors, large gilded furniture has recently come of age. Find out craft beneath.

Historical Egyptian gilding. The oldest documented gilded object is a silver nail from around 3,000 B.C., found in northern Syria. The head was wrapped in foil which was crimped into position.

Ancient Egypt was rich in gold, so many Egyptian craftsmen were master gilders. Goldsmiths in early Egypt pounded gold to less than a hundredth of a millimeter in thickness, decorating timber and metal objects with the thinnest and best overlays of silver foliage. Some specialists believe that creature glue was used to adhere the leaf directly.

This delicate gilded wall sculpture is your hero element within this diverse dining area.

Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

Historical Greek gilding. Ancient Greek gilders brought fire to the equation. By employing a gold amalgam (a mercury alloy) into a metal object and placing it under extreme heat, they could remove the germ completely, leaving just the top coat of gold onto the surface of the item.

Precisely the same type of gilded patina on these nested side tables, lamp and mirror provides this space visual richness and thickness.


Historical Roman gilding. Roman gilders turned into the Greek system into more of a decorative art, filling their temples with brightly colored pieces.

Evidence indicates that the Romans gilded wooden objects with a mixture of clay and chalk for a base, using egg whites to apply the gold leaf. They used a sheet of ivory to shine the leaf to a bright shine.

These Corinthian-inspired columns, with gilding within the pediment and on the frieze, show the benefits of gilding to complete effect.

Isler Homes

Renaissance gilding. France watched the reinvigoration of gilding throughout the reign of King Louis XIV, aptly known as the Sun King. The Palace of Versailles, with its excess bronze gilding and gilded plaster moldings, is a striking example of this craft.

The gilders of this time made a mold in wood or clay and stuffed it with wax. The mold was then full of molten bronze. A mixture of ground mercury and gold was warmed and applied to the bronze item until the mercury evaporated and a thick layer of matte gold has been abandoned on the item. Rubbing the gold with a heliotrope stone gave it a glistening sheen.

This magnificent Louis XV–style gilt wood mirror and Louis XIV–style console vanity both display a legitimate master gilder’s delicate and painstaking work.

Dillard Pierce Design Associates

Oil gilding. Today there are two methods of gilding which were developed in ancient Egypt and improved upon throughout the Renaissance.

Oil gilding can be used on both the indoor and outdoor decorations. Throughout the process a linseed oilestablished glue is applied to a very clean surface. The gold leaf is put down when the glue is dry to the touch but still slightly tacky. Professional-grade gilding tools are used to manipulate the exceptionally thin leaf. After the glue is dry, the loose leaf is brushed away and the surface is buffed with cotton wool.

The subtle gilding with this classic French console table functions perfectly in this setting.

CIH Design

Water gilding. Water gilding requires more work from the artisan, and the end result can’t be used on outdoor decor. To begin with, six to 12 coats of gesso (a sort of plaster of paris) are applied to the item, followed by four to eight coats of bole (a elegant clay). The bole is polished until it’s very fine and thin. Gold leaf is employed with gilder’s liquor, which triggers the glue in the bole and gesso. After, the item is left alone to get a matte finish or burnished with polished agate to get a mirror finish.

The contemporary gilding with this base, lamp base and painting framework are given careful consideration, and the results speak for themselves.

TNT Simmonds

Care and maintenance of gilded objects. When you’ve got a gilded object of worth, avoid routine cleaning. Using a spray or any other wet cleaning material will lead to abrasion and wear away the surface. Instead, dust it lightly on occasion and seek professional advice if there’s any apparent damage.

That I really like this 1960s-inspired salon with its silver and gold gilding on the bed’s headboard and footboard — also fun!

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