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Gilded carvings

Home Forums My Carvings! Gilded carvings

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    Mitchell Lang

    Here are two carvings I did this summer on 16″ plates. The gilding was done with 23K gold leaf and the letters are filled with acrylic paint. I didn’t use a gel stain – only a topcoat (General Finishes Arm-R-Seal).

    The quote in first plate is by the 18th century poet/mystic William Blake, and the quote in the second plate is by the Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    I found the designs on Shutterstock.com and modified them for chip carving.


    Very nice!! Beautiful work.


    Marty Leenhouts

    Mitch, I’m always a fan of your carving, lettering and finishing!

    If you could, please explain your process for getting the crisp edges with your gilding and painting inside the letters. I know everyone would appreciate it.


    Mitchell Lang

    Thanks David and Marty for your kind words. Marty, in answer to your question here’s the basic process I use:

    1. Do all carving and remove pattern lines.
    2. Brush sealer in and around letters and areas to be gilded. I use a clear sealer called Jo Sonja All Purpose Sealer (available from dickblick.com).
    3. Apply gilding primer to areas to be gilded.
    4. Paint letters with 2-3 coats of artist’s acrylic paint. Paint and gilding primer will get on the surface of the wood, but that’s OK as long as there’s clear sealer protecting the wood.
    5. Apply gilding glue and gold leaf. (A good source of gilding information and supplies is gildedplanet.com.)
    6. After paint and gilded areas are dry, sand with 220 sandpaper on a sanding block until all paint & excess gold are removed from the surface of the wood. When you vacuum the sawdust the crisp edges of the letters and gilded chips are revealed.

    About finishing: Ideally I’d spray on a topcoat, but lacquer, poly and shellac all darken gold leaf and reduce its luster. So, instead I use a wiping varnish and apply it to the surface of the wood with small brushes, avoiding the gilded areas. (I also apply it around, not inside, the painted letters because it’s difficult to wipe it out of the recesses.) I use General Finishes Arm-R-Seal oil based satin, applying 3 coats. This is tedious & time-consuming, but I like the results: some ambering, nice satin sheen, and it brings out the figure of the wood.

    Hope this answers your question!

    Andrei Gotia

    Beautiful carvings and quotes! Thank you for sharing!

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