Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Garden Gate Project - Part 14 - More finishing and gilding

Finishing can be really boring. The gate requires 7 coats of varnish all over and the application of which is very time consuming. Each coat needs 24 hours between drying and every other coat needs rubbing with 320 grit. Also the dilution of each coat gets less between coats until you end up with the varnish going on neat from the can.
I hadn't worked out a way of coating each side at the same time and the gate is too heavy to place onto painters pyramids or a simple bed of nails. So consequently 7 separate coats ends up taking 14 days to achieve. No pictures of paint drying I'm afraid.

In the meantime we have had guests over from foreign climes and we have been hosting for them. I did manage to get a little shop time last Sunday whilst they went to a Manchester United football game against Chelsea. I have absolutely no interest at all in football so had a few hours in the shop.

I decided to highlight the letters of the sign with black paint and gild the numbers with gold leaf.
The signs all had a base coat of shellac followed by a thin coat of spar varnish. When that had thoroughly dried I started to apply so black enamel paint. Unfortunately this paint was water based and would not take to the now varnished over letters! DOH!. Luckily I had some oil based exterior black gloss paint so carefully applied that paint instead.

Dunluce is the name of our house

Gilding is not as easy as it looks. I had bought a few sheets of gold leaf (not cheap) and some size, basically a fast drying adhesive to do the work.
Applying the size with a file artists paintbrush was easy enough to do waiting 15 minutes until it is just tacky. A tip I picked up from the Norm Abram video was to rub a potato across the surface. This is supposed to stop any leaf sticking to the wrong place.
Then a single sheet of gold leaf was applied. To do this the leaf is on release paper and you just use a combination of fingers and a dry paint brush to press it into the voids. 

Initial application pressing on the release paper
ended up with bits missing here and there.

Applying leaf with a little care
ended up with better results

It did stick slightly to places I shouldn't have but the starch in the potato basically worked ok. After an amount of work I ended up with a decent application. I applied some more size and finished off the bits that hadn't quite stuck properly. Then using a pad with some very fine sandpaper attached I rubbed all the extraneous bits of gold from the surface. Finally carefully applying a layer of shellac to hold it in position. There was another solution that the manuafacturer of the size/leaf suggested which was a clear varnish. I decided not to use that as shellac is just as good. All of the sign will eventually have a few coats of spar varnish applied to give it some weather resistance.
Not bad for my first attempt at gilding. I think practice makes perfect with this. I will gild other projects in the future.

The signs will be epoxied into the pockets I had created in the gate.

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