Gilding: the Language of Light on Paper, Parchment & Vellum

04-08 Feb 2019

The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts, London

This course is an exploration of the practice and symbolism of the luminous art of manuscript gilding on paper, parchment and vellum. Course participants will study the origin and varieties of gold and other precious metal leafs as well as the preparation and application of numerous traditional gilding sizes. Some more recent innovations in gilding sizes will also be tested and discussed.

We will learn to hand prepare and apply gum ammoniac, manuscript gesso and gold leaf paint (known as ‘shell gold’). Techniques of handling gold leaf will be covered, and the use of gilding tools such as the gilder’s cushion, tip and knife. Papers and other substrates suitable for illuminators will be studied and tested, and we will learn about vellum and parchment and their special uses and characteristics. Burnishing techniques and decorative effects such as inscribing and stamping will also be explored. In addition, we will cover the application of gilding sizes with a dip pen or quill.

Throughout the course, we will study many examples of manuscript illumination through the ages and discuss the designs and techniques used by the master illuminators from ancient to more recent times.

Participants will complete the course with several small scale gilded artworks demonstrating and recording their progress in this glorious art form.


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