Paul Monfredo began learning
the technique of water gilding more than twenty-five years
ago. It is an ancient technique using the same materials and
methods today as hundreds of years ago.
First the wooden structure of the frame is built and carved,
if required. Then gesso, which is made from animal skin glue
and whiting (ground chalk), is gradually applied, producing
a hard, evenly smooth layer. Red, black, blue, or yellow clay
or bole is painted on the smoothed gesso surface. 23kt gold
leaf is then applied with a gilder’s tip, a thin, flat
brush. The gold may then be burnished with an agate stone,
or rubbed and antiqued, depending on the desired finish.
If the frame is to be painted, Nancy will have incised the
design into the gesso surface before it is gilded. After the
gilding process is complete, the egg tempera is painted on
in many layers, one color over another, each layer adding
to the next.