Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Rush tidy up

Here is the Watts frame from a couple of posts ago... This job had a very urgent turn around, so it was really a case of do what can be done in the limited time. In an ideal world it should have had the over-painting stripped off and been re-gilded in oil and water gilding, but a quick fix and tidy up was required...
Once the surface was stabilised and missing ornament replaced, It was given a simple bronze powder and metal leaf finish, then antiqued, sealed with shellac, and waxed. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

More gilding and painting...

These frames are nearly finished, the sides have been painted, had a grey paint wash, and then been waxed. The scoop slip part has also been painted and will have a light colouring with wax and dry pigments. Lastly the gilding will be spray sealed with acrylic varnish. These types of finishes can be done on any number of different profiles, with even more variations in the colours and effects that can be used in hand finishing the moulding.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Carved frame cut down

This very nice carved frame was one I had in stock, the finish is silver gilding with a heavy colourwash. It was a few inches too big for the painting so I had to cut it down, this was done by breaking the frame apart at two corners, it was then cut to size and re-joined. There is always a problem when cutting down a carved frame - where the corners would have originally been beautifully shaped, after it is cut the irregular shapes of the frame can look awkward and unmatched at the corners. In this case the two corners matched up relatively well and did not stand out.

Example of water gilding...

Another Watts

Here is another Watts frame, probably from around the early 20th C. You can see straight away that it has been over-painted, which in time has turned a lovely brown colour. There are lots of losses to the compo on two sides which will be replaced. In places you can see the original gilding.

Gilded frames

These frames seen in earlier posts, have now been gilded, next they will be painted.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


This limited edition canvas print is by Broadway artist Jeremy Houghton and it is surrounded by a gilded and painted frame.
Jeremy currently has an exhibition at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.

gesso paint finish

I was going to do a step-by-step on this frame, but deleted the initial photos, anyway it is very simple to do. The frame was gessoed, then given a coat of quick drying acrylic primer undercoat. The outer raised edge and sides were painted in a dark grey (2 coats), then the scoop section was painted off white (2 coats), then a light grey was watered down a little and quickly brushed on and wiped off. Next the scoop was given a light distressing with 800 and 400 paper, and finally it was finished with Renaissance wax.

Frames on display

If you like old frames then you might like the kitchen and toilet at the workshop. Here are all sorts of different frame styles, which I hung on the walls this weekend. There are a couple of examples from the 17th/18th Centuries, a number from the 19th C, and lots of early to late 20th C, and a few new frames made by us. There is still room for about another 12!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Finish for previous post

The 9 frames in the previous post will be finished something like the frame in this photo.
This frame was originally made up as an example of different finishes, since it was made we have had orders for 12 similar frames.

The next round

The revolving wheel of frame production keeps on going round... here are 10 little frames which will be gilded and painted. 9 of them are made from a cove shaped slip and an outer shaped frame, these are cut, joined, glued/pinned together, given a size coat and then gessoed. The lonely frame on the top of the shelves is a simple box frame. 

Ribbon repair

The ribbon ornament at the bottom of this frame was broken into five pieces, the top photo showing after they have been fixed back in place, and the second once the gilding had been touch up.

White gold box

This is the box frame that had green bole to match a Farrow & Ball colour. It has been gilded in 12ct white gold, and the sides are painted in F&B Charleston Gray.

Corner detail - float frame

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Painted frames

Here I am painting these various tray and float frames, they have been sprayed with gesso and sanded, painted with acrylic primer undercoat, and now they get a couple of coats of Farrow and Ball paint. The last stage will be a coat of acrylic sealer.

Moon gold tray frame

The canvas tray frame from earlier posts has been sprayed with gesso, sanded, and then painted with brown bole and water gilded in 22ct moon gold. Next comes the paint finish on the sides.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Green bole

This box frame has been painted with light green bole (made by mixing from green, white, and yellow bole), the bole was to match a Farrow and Ball colour. The frame will now be water gilded with 12ct white gold.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Size coat of glue

This tray frame is made from obeche, the sides are made from a conventional wide flat frame that has been mitred on its side, the back part is made from a fillet 9mm x 73mm (refs: Rose and Hollis A104 and F7 if anyone's taking notes). The fillet was underpinned first on the inside and then the outer frame was underpinned through the fillet to join them together nicely. The sides of frame were also drilled and cross pinned close to the top (the face) for extra strength. Here I am giving the frame a size coat with rabbit skin glue.

Antique mirror frame

This fantastic Louis XVI style antique mirror and frame has come in for a few minor repairs. Apart from these small areas that need attention, it's in great condition with lovely water gilded finish. 

A gilt and painted frame

Although I am an antique frame fanatic, I also love certain 20th Century styles like this gilt and heavily distressed painted frame. It is a design we try and replicate, and we have our own versions of this gilding combined with distressed paint and colour washes. This style of frame finish is something of a modern classic in my opinion, and I
 would be interested to know more about the history of these frames, and who first started making them.

This frame has a label of the framemakers and art shippers:
James Bourlet and Sons Ltd. I've always called these types of frames (gilded and distressed paint) 'Bourlet frames', something I picked up from an art dealer years ago. The company has a very rich history and continue to make some fantastic frames in London, maybe this style was even first designed by the Bourlet framemakers. 

As in the previous post, there is a lot of historical info on this company in the directory of British framemakers 1630-1950 by Jacob Simon on the NPG website, in fact the previous maker W.A. Smith was apparently taken over by James Bourlet in 1899:

Monday, 6 February 2012

Gilded oak and laurel leaf

This late 19th Century frame has a gilded oak inner frame and the outer is a triple run of the often used laurel leaf and berry ornament. This outer ornament is one of the commonest seen on old frames, but usually it is just a larger single run. This frame was made by W.A. Smith who has an extensive listing in the National Portrait Gallery list of British Framemakers 1630-1950, complied by Jacob Simon:

Nearly finished...

The Florentine style frame Mark has been restoring and regilding is nearly finished... thankfully! Lots and lots of hours have gone into this so it will be good to get it finished this week, in other words we will be glad to see it leave the workshop! only joking, it is great to have such frames to work on. Here you can see photos after it has been lightly distressed and the leaf tips have been burnished. Next comes a bit of patina and toning. 

Next weeks work

Here are a few of the jobs we will be working on this week. The piles of oak frames are for a regular contract order, we do about 100 to 200 at a time every few months. Hanging on the wall brackets are lots of different frames, some will be gilded and others will have gesso/paint finishes. Lastly the close up is a canvas tray which will be water gilded in moon gold. A busy week ahead!

Black box

These two box frames are made from tulip wood which has been gessoed and then finished with black Pelikan Plaka paint (a water based casein emulsion), they have then been finished with wax. It's a simple but nice looking finish, and I do love frames with covered mitres.