Monday, May 14, 2012

Restoration of Gilt Mirror Frame

 This beautiful mirror frame came into our shop with considerable damage.  There were large obvious areas,  as well as minor breaks and chips all over.  Someone had clearly attempted to repair it,  and then realized that they just weren't up to the job.  So they brought it to us!  What a wise decision!

I am going to show you a series of photos, each of a different area of significant damage.  In this first photo you can see where a leaf tip had been broken off.  When it came to us, someone had used bondo or putty and had tried to reshape it,  giving it a sort of 'pine cone' look.  That clearly did not match the rest of the mirror.  Our first task, with any of the repairs on this frame, was to create a solid, accurately shaped repair with bondo.   This shaping takes a good eye for what would have originally been there,  as well as good hands to recreate it with tools.

 The next task once all the bondo work and carving was dry and set, was to color the repaired areas.   With older frames, the traditional way of decorating was to apply a red oxide base under the gold leaf.  This red gave the leaf a brightness and brilliance.  Without the bright red color, the gold leaf would have ended up a bit more pale or washed out.  We re-created that by using a liquid shellac and red oxide powders directly over the bondo.

The next step, after the red oxide is to re-create the gold leaf.  Since this mirror used a gilding paste as a 'faux' leaf,  we did the same.  We can recreate any different shade of gold, which is pretty important when restoring old pieces such as this.  The paste was applied by hand over the red.

The final step in the restoration of this mirror was to 'antique' the gilt paste on the areas we repaired.  I would love to tell you more about this step, really I would.  But....  I just can't.  That would be like giving away a secret recipe, or the location of a buried treasure. I just can't do it.  But,  if you think this mirror looks as gorgeous as I do,  you are welcome to bring your mirror in.  We will work all our magic, and even use the secret sauce,  if the job requires it!