Gilding Gone Silly

11pm. My mobile rang.
“Hi darling. I’m on my way home.” came the voice of my husband, husked slightly by a pint or two of Christmas cheer.
“Oh s**t” went my reply.

I’m fairly sure this wasn’t the reaction expected, but I was midway through an experimental gilding project which I was rather hoping to have completed by his return. I wasn’t convinced he’d approve you see and figured if it was done and hanging back up on the wall I’d stand a better chance of getting away with it than if he came home to find it in its current gluey state.
“Um….the clock isn’t finished.” I muttered in explanation.
“Clock? What clock?”
“The big Ikea one. I’m gilding it”
“The hallway one?”
“Mmm. I wanted you to see it finished but instead you’ll see it midway…..and it looks a bit of a mess.” I paused before adding hurriedly into the silence, “I think it’ll be ok though….”
There was an audible sigh.
“Well. Given that it sat on the wall for a few months before either of us realised it was telling the wrong time I guess I probably won’t notice it… ”
“I do love you….you let me get away with murder.” I smiled.
“Within reason pet. Within reason. Is there anything I can eat at home?”
Pizza duly went in the oven before I continued, rather contentedly, gilding.

S, in fairness, has due course to worry. Even I was worried….my decision to brave tackling the humongous artifact had been done with heart in mouth. You see, my proficiency at gilding has not yet been proven….. last week I decided I’d gild a much smaller chrome clock which hangs in our bedroom. Excited but clueless I eagerly unpacked my sheets of brass gilding and pot of gold size. Watching me S appeared the more confident of the two of us.
“I thought that head you painted in the lounge would be a disaster but it looks great.” he said “I’m sure it will look good. Besides….that clock was cheap.”

Buoyed by his support I’d enthusiastically shared my ambitious Grand Plan…..to progress on to the larger hall clock before tackling a Habitat light fitting which I wanted as part of the Stiffkey & Brass scheme I have planned for our bedroom. At this his confidence in me began to waver.
“Um….” he eyed the glistening clock hesitantly. “Well. Do what you like I suppose. But ….well…..that light was expensive….”

Certainly gilding has been slightly trickier than I had anticipated. Firstly I’d mistakenly ordered transfer leaf rather than loose sheets which means that the leaf is stuck lightly to tissue paper. Having first tried both unsuccessfully …and stupidly ….to pick the leaf off the tissue prior to application a frantic Google search (there being no accompanying instructions) revealed what should have been the obvious….the leaves should be applied with tissue paper uppermost and then peeled off as the gilding sticks to the size. The first attempt, having not read the back of the glue pot, was applied too quickly with messily disastrous results.
“If at first you don’t succeed…” I murmured as I spun the pot of size around to read the minuscule script on its side, “read the instructions….”
“It’s unlike you to be impatient…” came a voice behind me as S pottered about in the kitchen pretending not to care that I was more than likely about to ruin his old clock.

Choosing to ignore the sarcasm I absorbed the new and rather important information…..wait until the PVA-like size turns violet then clear before applying leaf…..and continued. This did, unsurprisingly, produce a far more pleasing end result and slowly but surely the chrome clock became brass. Well. More like gold. And actually not like a clock at all but more like an Easter Egg. Desperate to get rid of the crumpled foil look I grabbed some brown shoe polish and in an improvised fashion coated the lot. At first I thought it looked rather good.
“What do you think?” I said angling the now grubby clock towards S.
“It’ll look great pet…..in the shed.”

With sinking heart I had to admit I agreed but determined to make it work….and rather enjoying the therapeutic process….I decided I’d start again. This time, I thought to myself, I’d stick to the instructions and skip any unauthorised parts of the process involving shoe cleaning products. In fact perhaps it would be wise to first take the time to read Annie Sloan’s gilding tips in my new paint effects book I’d bought when considering painting the chairs (and yes a painted specimen features in the book but even that, professional photography et al, looks a bit crap. Theres a lesson emerging here…..read then do (or not….as the case may be)?

With advice absorbed and renewed vigour I began again and this time it looked more promising. A coat of the recommended clear wax smothed away the sweet-wrapper creases and dulled the gleam down significantly so with raised eyebrows I lifted the clock up for S’s opinion.
“I think I don’t want you to do the other things you said you were going to….” came the damning verdict.

Bah, thought me. It’ll look fine. It’s admittedly still more gold than brass but perhaps another coat of tinted wax (Annie suggests mixing it with paint to create lighter or darker versions) may do the trick. That said I’ve decided I might try and curb my enthusiasm and hold off for now until I see the clock against the blue wall. Then I’ll have another play if need be.

Meanwhile the hallway clock is shaping up quite nicely, as is a picture frame I had a little go at. A few finishing touches are needed on both….a rim around the clock is proving tricky and may need a creative solution. But hey. I’m good at those.

Where’s the shoe polish? 20141211-172805-62885152.jpg
First disastrous attempt

20141211-172818-62898143.jpg
Looking better?

20141211-172824-62904641.jpg
The hallway clock

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