Master Gilders logoThe Art of Gilding graphic
Master Gilders - gilding of a bronze statue, (Victory), using the oil gilding technique. Project for the gardens of a private estate in California. Gilding consists of applying a very thin metal leaf over an object or surface to enhance it and give a beautiful reflective finish. It is a very old craft; we see it used extensively for example in the surviving masterpieces of the Ancient Egyptians. Throughout history gilding has played a prominent role in decoration and was always intended to exemplify quality and good taste.

There are two main gilding techniques employed. The first, and by far the finest gilding finish, can only be obtained with the traditional Water Gilding technique. This technique allows for special brilliant and matte effects distinguishing it from any other techniques. Water gilding can be used only for indoor projects.

Water Gilding is used most commonly on wood, but can also be used on surfaces that can retain the base coat, such as plaster, stone, etc. This gilding method is the most challenging and time consuming, but the end result is the finest and gives the most beautiful finish in gilding. The advantages of a gold gilding leaf finish, as opposed to mere gold-colored finishes, are finer reflectivity, stability and durability. A properly gilded surface will last for centuries.

The second technique is Oil Gilding, where a strong adhesive size is applied to the surface. It is a less time consuming gilding method and is much easier to use. Though the finish is less refined than that of water gilding, the advantage of Oil Gilding is that it can be used on a wider range of materials, for both indoor and outdoor gilding projects.