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How to restore gilt frames

Restoring and repairing the gilt of a frame, a delicate operation

By: Webmaster | Published: 03/02/2010 11:52 | |
Gilt frames are a classic in the world of art and painting, but that gilt is not eternal. Time makes them lose their luster and even the frame itself can deteriorate.

When cleaning a gilded frame you must take into account that the gold plate is delicate. It will not stand aggressive products or brushes that are too hard. To work with it, it is always easier to disassemble the frame and handle it separately, but if the job is simple you can skip this step.

Start by dusting with a soft brush or even a feather duster. Stains should be treated with special products to clean gilt. They are applied with a brush and the final gloss is recovered polishing the spot with a cotton swab.

If the frame has deteriorated - for example it has cracked - you must also repair the cracks. To fill any gaps it is best to use synthetic wood pulp, although you can prepare a home substitute by mixing glue and sawdust. If the frame has decorative reliefs, you should mold the wood pulp you have added accordingly, once it begins to take consistency but before it solidifies completely. If the embossed figure is complex it may turn out to be a tricky task that may require the use of a burin. Once the pulp has dried, polish it with polishing foam or extra thin sandpaper.

Once you have fixed the flaws in the wood, clean the dust left, fruit of your work. Then you will have to renew the gilt in that area. Apply a gold background with a brush. There are several specific products; be extremely careful not to exceed the amount of product used as it could cover part of the decoration in the frame.

Another option is to apply fine sheets of metal, using special glue, instead of gold leaf. These thin sheets can be found in silver and gold. It will probably be necessary to place several layers before getting the right texture. This is a very delicate operation because of the fragility of these plates.

Finally finish it with varnish for gilt or lacquer for metal.