Preface to the book by the authors
Gilding is not a difficult process but it is one which has been surrounded by secrecy. The techniques which are used to handle gold leaf owe nothing to other craft practices, and because of the cost of the leaf and also because gilding is a trade in which work is finished for other craftsmen it has not attracted amateurs.
If one needs a gilder today, he is unlikely to be in the next street, and any advantage in efficiency which the professional gilder can offer has to be offset against the cost of transporting the work to him. If a modern craftsman wishes -to have his work gilded he is likely to have to gild it himself.
This book is an attempt to set down detailed descriptions and explanations of the traditional, professional methods of both oil and water gilding in a way that can be followed by another craftsman. It does not discuss some of the methods that have been suggested recently for amateur use. These have been designed to reduce the skill required at one part of the process, but they often make other parts more difficult. Like any skill, gilding requires practice, but if the well-tried methods are followed, and the would-be gilder is prepared to use more leaf and spend more time than the pro¨fessional, he or she should be able to produce a perfectly satisfactory result.
Like the techniques, the recipes for the varnishes and gesso are those which are used in our own studio, but it should be noted that the metric and imperial quantities that are given are not the exact equivalent of each other. One should either work with one set of units or the other.
The authors are grateful for the help they have received from a number of fellow craftsmen, and are particularly indebted to James Robinson and to W. Habberley Meadows for reading the manuscript and making valuable suggestions. Ann and Peter MacTaggart, October 1984
1st edition, 7h reprint 2011, Pb, 74pp, many illustrations, 14.5 x 21 cm