Gilding Stars

Star Spell gild 2

This weekend I’ve been gilding stars with platinum leaf, finishing out the deluxe books of my Star Spell edition. Gilding doesn’t always go the way I expect it to; there is a certain amount of serendipity to it. This time around it’s going well, and I’m fantasizing that maybe I’ve finally got a handle on it. Until the next time that is. A few photos of the process: above, the metal leaf after it is stuck to the base, and before the excess is brushed off.

Star Spell gilding 1

I’m gilding onto PVA, slightly thinned down and run through a straight ruling pen; this photo shows it only partially dried. I first sketch the star with a pastel pencil for placement. When the gilding is done, I erase the brown marks with the edge of a old ink eraser, VERY carefully.

Star Spell gilding 3

After years of straining my neck to bend over my gilding, I’ve finally set up one of my portable slant boards so that I can sit pretty well upright while working. I use a cushy piece of red leather underneath my gilding area; that little bit of give lets the burnisher push the gold into the pesky edges.

Star Spell gilding 4

Above is a funny little aid to gilding that I must credit to Peter Thornton. It’s simply a piece of paper folded as you see, very useful for catching those extra bits of gold that are brushed off the finished piece. The way this is folded, it catches those ever-so-weightless bits and contains them in the bottom fold until I can gently tap them into an old clear film canister, saved for later use in paste paper or papermaking. The paper itself is a real relic and exactly dates when I learned this trick: it’s a 6-up copy of a wine label I made for the last vintage of wine we bottled; Ferraro’s Fab Cab (cabernet) was bottled in 1995.

Star Spell gilding 5

Above is the finished gilding, and below, the edition as it looks in its publicity photo. There are only a few of the deluxe edition left.

Star Spell Edition in slipcase
{ 5 comments… add one }
  • prano 02/09/2009, 11:46 pm

    Always fascinating, Cari. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sue Simpson 02/09/2009, 11:57 pm

    lol… Oh Cari… I thought you were going to share Peter’s gilding tube! Phew! So glad it wat the gold catching idea. lol.And how weird is this… I’ve just blogged about stars too…. now this is getting too weird for words. hehehe.Hope you are well and creativity is buzzing.Love sue xxx

  • Cari 02/10/2009, 3:03 pm

    Hey Sue, Well, I guess I could have included a picture of the tube, though I didn’t learn that one from Peter. It’s just an old Westinghouse certificate (I filled in thousands of them in the eighties, a nice heavy card stock), cut to about 4 inches then rolled and taped into a tube. I’m getting pretty adept at holding it in my mouth as I work (for those who don’t know, it’s to breathe on and thereby humidify the base before laying the gold); it probably looks almost like a cigarette hanging from my mouth but without the annoying smoke! I used to use a metal tube, but the breath would condense and drip on the base; the paper tube seems to absorb just enough that it doesn’t do that.

  • Sue Simpson 02/19/2009, 1:31 am

    Cari, I’ve nominated you for an award, to see what for go to my blog…Thanks for being so inspirational!Love and blessings,Sue xxx

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