Gilding Technique

Above features a video of our amazing gilders, Craig Summa and Jim Bessner, working on a large frame for a client. Preparing such a frame takes time and a lot of labor through intensive steps, but the final results create a beautiful piece.

The frame is first fixed of any chips or damages and primed. This is why the frame is red at the beginning. The technique being used above is oil gilding, which means the next step is to coat the frame in oil. The oil acts to adhere the gold metal leaf to the frame.

20180405_102524.jpgAfter any excess oil is removed, the gold metal leaf is pressed into the many intricate details. Excess leaf is removed, leaving a gold finish to the frame. Other metals are available, but are much more expensive and gives a different 20180409_104216.jpglook to the frame.

Shellac, which is made of ethanol and beetle excrement, is painted onto the frame and acts as a sealant. Without shellac, the gold metal leaf would crumble and crack off of the frame. The shellac must be dry before any other steps can be taken, and that can take at least three days before it will be completely dry.

Finally, the frame is antiqued which adds depth and attention to the detail of the frame. It can also subdue the strong shine of the gold metal leaf and gives a more classic appearance. After the antiquing dries, the art can be fitted into the frame, hanging tools attached to the back, packaged, and shipped to the client.

The Bonfoey Gallery takes pride in the hard and excellent work of its workers. This entire process is done at the gallery’s 14,000 square foot workroom in the Playhouse Square Theater of Cleveland, Ohio. The tradition of making high quality frames with detail and precision has been important to Bonfoey since 1893 and will continue to be for hopefully the next 125 years.


Wondering what happens to the extra gold metal leaf that is removed?




It’s added to our drawer!

If you’re lucky (and ask nicely) we might just let you see our treasure trove in person next time you visit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s