Holding up a mirror to gilded art

The art of gilding may go back thousands of years, but that doesn’t mean that a bit of innovation can’t take place.

So believes Richard Walker, who has been teaching this beautiful craft to students at the school for the past two weeks.

Richard, one of Europe’s leading gilding experts, runs Watergild Studios and also teaches both in the UK and USA.

He has introduced the students to a new gilding technique called the Kolner system that uses nanotechnology to provide a particularly fine adhesive quality.

The Kolner system gives gold a more lustrous finish that other gilding processes can’t match, and the Chippendale school is the first in the UK to have adopted this new gilding technology.

Scots-born Honor Dalrymple, who worked previously as a structural engineer, is seen here applying gold using the Kolner process to her hand-carved oak mirror frame, and we’ll soon bring you pictures of her finished article.

While gilding is most commonly used decoratively in exterior architecture, interior design or objects such as picture frames or mirrors, it can also become an artwork itself.

That’s certainly the approach taken by Candace Roberts, originally from Trinidad & Tobago, who studied interior decorating at university, then opened her own interior decorating and retail business in her home town of Port of Spain.

Candace is also an abstract artist herself, and says that the gilded artwork she’s made would have taken her days to paint… but much, much less time using two colours of copper on a black painted background, and then applying effects with bleach and copper nitrate.

“Gilding can be much, much more than decoration and I’m always delighted to see students experiment with colours, processes and materials,” says Richard.

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