The Evolution of Gilding

Gold, one of the most malleable and permanently shiny metals on earth, has been worked by artists and creators since at least the sixth millennium B.C.E. A function of the material’s stable chemical structure and geological rarity, gold has secured statuses ranging from an embodiment of luxury to a protector of sensitive industrial components.

one of Lowy's many spectacular gold frames

Alas! Because gold is soft, rare and expensive, objects made entirely of gold are extraordinary and uncommon. The 500-year-old process of gilding was developed to produce decorative arts objects that give the illusion of solid gold. At Lowy we continue the tradition by starting with gold that has been hammered into very thin sheets known as gold leaf. And we do mean thin — 1/250,000″ or less! Such thin material is possible because gold has a uniquely fluid, and therefore very strong, bonding structure. The gold leaf is most commonly applied over a covered wood substrate with a glue and chalk ground. Ancient cultures such as the Egyptians and Greeks covered objects in a thick layer of gold before gold leaf was invented.

Lowy’s master gilder, R. Wayne Reynolds, demonstrates the flexibility of gold leaf to a panel of admirers

Check back at The Lowy Blog over the next several weeks for our snapshot into the rest of the process. With a uniquely long history and deep knowledge about this traditional craft, Lowy is your master for magnificent gilded frames.

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