Finishing Gilded Frames

Woodworks by John

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Jul 4, 2000
North Las Vegas, NV
Retired, work from home shop
I am working on hand carving and gilding frames and need some advice. I'm ok at the gilding and carving but would like to know how to achieve that soft patina found on most plein air frames. Would anyone share their formulas with me? I've used raw umber mixed thinned with shellac but it's not exactly what I'd like to get, any help and/or tips would be appreciated.
Thanks, John
The patina of a fine gilded frame is not a single coating. Rather it is a combination of many layers and the manupalitation of these layers.

I would suggest classes offered by SOG Society of Gilders. Like everything else it is learning how to use the formula, not just the raw formula.
Jerome, thanks for your response. I mainly build furniture and do the framing for my artist/wife. I've taken a couple of classes at the West Coast Framing Show in Las Vegas but, like you said, really need to work on technique. I appreciate the info about SOG and have checked out the website. Four more years of my day job (teaching) and I can devote full time to the arts!
John, although Jerome is entirely correct in suggesting the classes.... I understand where you are coming from as a "hobbiest" at this time.

Try whipping up some "moka latte" color instead of your raw umber.... out of acrylic paint.... then thin untill it almost starts falling apart, then add a little white glue.... and either pat on with some wadding cloth or spray on with a HVLP gun. Fog the frame not coat. Let almost dry then brush with a very soft dry brush. let dry. If you need more, apply coats untill desired affect is reached. Then coat with clear canuba wax, and let harden, then a little dusting of pumic stone or whiting for higher tones, and soft wipe back to glow not polish.

Hope this helps untill you can book some of those classes.
One of the most useful materials for toning gilt
frames is casein paint. It can be found at better
art suppliers and can be thinned with water and
a bit of alcohol (to serve as a wetting agent)
and applied in thin, even coats to give a silky,
rich tone to the gold. It is also the traditional
side paint for gold frames. As John noted, that
is only the beginning. One other tip that is useful comes from Stanley Robertson, who suggested
rugging the finished frame with paper, to approximate years of handling.

My advice to you....Years of experience.

That is the only way to get good at the finished product of gilding finishes. Why do you think it costs so much?
Casien can be hard to find. We, like many art supply stores don't stock it because of low demand and limited shelf life. As a milk by product it does spoil. My solution has been to buy the casien binder in powder form and make it as needed and mix with powdered pigment. It keeps well for up to several months in the fridge. I mail order mine from Kremer Pigments. Keep your layers thin. Usually I like to seal the gold with 1 1/2lb cut shellac. Apply and imediatley blot off with cheese cloth so it is a very light coat. Apply casien using the same technique. Final seal with the shellac, once again the same technique but often I will pick up a touch of dry pigment with the shellac. Learned this from John Sansbury and it (or variations) works well with either water or oil gilding.
We have a bottle of "mud" we got from Abe Munn. Not sure if it is still available to buy or not.. but it works very well.. can be thinned to whatever consistancy you like and it has a powdery finish when it is dry.
the Munn "mud" is casein paint mixed to the color they like.

Casein paint is also available from theatre supply houses.

Rosco's Iddings Deep Color® comes in quarts and is pure casein.........Watch the other brands most have acrylic mediums included in their formulas.
I'm thankful for all of the replies and hints. I realize that just like building furniture, gilding will take years of practice. I have found casien colors by Shiva in a tube form at Dick Blick. Are any of you familiar with it and it's use? John
Haven't used Shiva but it's casien all right. should work fine. Just thin it way down. If you find the pigment becomes too dispers when thinned they do make an emulsion that you can add (just a drop or two will do) to bind it back together.
One trick you can use to extend the life of your
casein tubes is to store them with a damp sponge
in an empty house paint can. A bit of alcohol
in the sponge should help keep the mold at bay.

Hugh, I am shocked.... You're really posting alot lately.... and it's all little bit of emerals, rubys, and diamonds....

We need you to get out on the grumble more often...

If I get back to WDC again...I want to take you to dinner for about 9 hours.... don't mind me if I wear a little duct tape on my mouth... :D