Water Gilding with Umberto.


Today's blog post will focus on the process of Water Gilding. In previous blog posts a focus of inspiration has been the main drive such as hand drawn lettering and music.

As much as these posts are about the external inspiration/influences, this post is also about inspiration - the process being the inspiration.


Umberto will talk you through the steps needed to water gild to hopefully pass on this wonderful technique as my mentor did to me.


1. Sketch of lettering or design prepared on thin paper. Outline traced in Brunswick Black to be seen on reserve side. Fasten to outside window taking care not to tear.




2. Prepare size - 4 capsules to 500ml warm clean water. Cleanliness is essential.


3. Clean glass thoroughly, using Bon Ami soap if possible, though this can be hard to find.


4. Shake a few leaves of gold onto a cushion, bring one leaf on to the centre of the cushion and blow flat.



You can cut the gold with a gilders knife to reduce on waste. The image above shows 12c gold sliced equally to gild a delicate border.


5. Apply a liberal flow of size with a flat ox hair filling in brush to the glass ready to be gilded.



6. Start from the top left hand corner, lifting the gold leaf from the gilders cushion with a squirrel hair gilders tip and apply to glass. The Smiths Tip, stocked by Wrights of Lymm is ideal for this work as it has been made to fit and hold a full leaf of gold - as used in this image.




7. The leaf can be cut with a gilders knife is smaller pieces are required, as soon in the earlier image. Care should be taken that over laps and joints are made between letters. Allow the work to dry before proceeding. Examine closely and blot any tears of size which have not died.


8. With a fair sized wad of best cotton wool rub very lightly over gold to burnish it. You will now notice imperfections in the work, and to obtain best results "double gilding" is recommended. Another coat of size is applied and another layer of gold. This can be dried with clean blotting paper. When dry again rub with cotton wool gently.


9. Examine from the front. If not as bright as desired, get water just off the boil and wash down with the flat ox hair filling in brush. Dry quickly by blotting or dabbing with clean wash leather, formed into a smooth pad. Re-burnish with cotton wool.


10. Carefully remove drawing from front glass and prick round letters to form a pounce. Place on inner side, registering carefully with the position from outer glass. Pounce lettering onto gold. Write in letter or outline whichever is to appear in gold with nasdar black and leave 24 hours to dry. The gold which is to remain is now fixed with this enamel.


11. To clean off the surplus gold use a wad of cotton wool dipped in whiting and water, do this as quickly as possible so that damp does not penetrate to gold. Trim all straight lines with chisel and straight edge.









Signs by Umberto

Traditional signwriter based between West Yorkshire and Manchester specialising in reverse glass signs and gold leaf application.

All work © of Robert Walker - owner of Signs by Umberto.

Artwork except Knuckle on the pages Record Sleeves and Reading are not the work of Signs by Umberto and are on display only to showcase the inspiration to the sign writing.

All images copyright of Robert Walker 2017