Gilding: Gold & Silver leaf
“Inspired by my travels to Japan, I enrolled at the City & Guilds Art School in London to learn the techniques of gilding and Verre eglomise. This originates from the French term meaning `glass gilded`, and is a process where the reverse side of a piece of glass is covered with gold or silver leaf using a gelatin adhesive. The effects can be shimmering.”
My interest in learning to gild with silver and gold leaf stems from a visit I made to Japan in 2011 to see the chambers of the "Nijo Castle" in Kyoto, built at the beginning of the Edo period and the "Ninomaru Palace" in the Nagoya castle grounds.
Within the palace the subtle inner chambers reveal lavish and exquisite gold leaf panels and sliding doors, decorated with wall paintings of landscape, hawks, pine trees, cherry trees, mountains, tigers; all intended to impress Edo-period visitors with the power and wealth of the Shoguns.
In one of the Art galleries in Kyoto where I was looking at Japanese screens, I saw the work of the palace painter. He was using oxides on the gold and silver leaf to stunning effects and had used the age old technique of crushed eggshell to paint the white blossom with.
Verre Eglomise originates from the French term meaning `glass gilded`
There are many different techniques, most of them extremely complex and time consuming, but the result is a mirror-like, softly reflective surface that when combined with reverse painting techniques can create rich, shimmering, beautifully reflective pieces of artwork.