Spring 2019 ORC Week 4
Those are the words I chose to kick off this week’s post because sometimes you just need to let the inward excitement out with song! What I am about to show you is an idea I’ve been sitting on for quite some time. I’ve been experimenting on smaller projects here and there and really wanting to go for it in a big way. So let’s back up and chat about what got me here.
I LOVE Versailles. I mean, who doesn’t? The walls literally drip wealth and ooze beauty. Not an inch of that place has been overlooked. Even the mansions that are built with grandeur in mind today, still don’t look like that. But why not!?
Why is everything plain jane and blah? Ya, ya, ya, we could analyze all the shifts in culture throughout history that has lead us to this point: the French Revolution being the most obvious! I mean, the people were literally starving in the street and you have Marie-Antoinette saying, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.” Although historians seriously doubt the factuality behind that statement, it still reflects the tone behind the monarchy of the time.
Over time as the middle class rose there simply wasn’t the same wealth dedicated to this grandiose decorating. And in the process the demand for specialty craftsman and artisans also waned. Florence has always been a hub for these artists, and even in the last two decades there has been a major shift in the supply produced due to demand, and over time skilled craftsmen become less and less available.
Of course our style and design has changed because our economy has changed, and cultural movements have pushed back against what came before them. But I’m here to say, “vive l'ornement!” Let’s turn history on it’s head and introduce something ornate beautiful, and, dare I say, accessible to the common man.
Now, I’m not suggesting I’m an artisan, but I do consider myself a simple artist working on her craft hoping to get better every day.
OK! I won’t keep you in suspense forever - let’s get down to the details of what I did and how I did it!
If you know me even a little bit, then you know that I’m obsessed with all things gold. The obsession really took over when I actually lived in Europe and toured all the magnificent palaces and museums I could. So I went back to Italy to study gilding (basically applying gold to any object!)
While I don’t often use real 24K gold in my projects, since that drives up the price, I always find a way to keep things affordable.
Step 1: Paint your door. Simple and easy enough. afterwards, plan out your layout. Measure & measure some more.
Step 2: I started with the edges since that was going to be my border and act as my guide the rest of the time. I did this portion of the process with the clay moulds because they are more malleable once formed and I can curve them in any direction or blend them into one another. For this step, to ensure you get a good release from the mould, this is where the cornstarch comes in handy. Note on the clay: it takes a while to dry - so you won’t be able to paint it until day 2. Also, because the clay shrinks when it dries it is really helpful to apply it right away. I have never had any lifting after it is dry, although there may be areas of slight cracking.
decour moulds air dry clay casting resin various painting brushes corn starch carving tools drop sheet gold metallic paint gold leaf oil size kneaded eraser pencil ruler wood glue
Step 3: for designing the interior of the ornate door I used the casting resin. I had actually never used this particular brand before and wasn’t sure how it would turn out - lucky for me it worked brilliantly. It releases very well without any additives and acts quickly. I happened to be doing this step on day two of the project, so I was ready to paint my clay and it worked out really well that the resin can (and should) be painted immediately.
Step 4: paint your moulds. As stated in step 2, I had already applied my clay moulds to the door, so it had to be carefully painted ON the door. The resin moulds I actually was able to set aside and paint very quickly first before applying them.
Step 5: organize your inner structure of moulds and measure again. The worse thing would be for you to do it all free hand and then realize that your design is off center. So I layed everything out and ensured that it was in the right place, then…with breath-holding caution, I lifted each individual piece one at a time and applied glue before setting it back down.
Step 6: now the paint acts as a really good base in this case. Also, the gold leaf will not be able to go in every nook and cranny of your ornate detailing (unless you’re an expert gilder), so its good to start with a gold metallic base to get into the crevices. At this stage you’re ready to apply the oil size to the surface of your moulds. Because I took more time doing the detailed painting and I’m just looking to hit all the main ridges, this step really doesn’t take too long.
Step 7: apply your gold leaf, wait for it to dry, then dust off the excess with a soft bristle brush.
Step 8: I do have the option of sealing this project, but I really don’t think it’s necessary, so I’m going to finish with step 7 and leave it here. If you did want to seal it, I would go with shellac.
Voila! Now I need the perfect door handle!!! I really love how my boring old door, previously only used for function, is now my own special work of art that transports me to another era.
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Be sure to follow along and see what all the other lovely ladies have been up to this week by clicking the link, here.
I love the collaboration that is coming through this One Room Challenge. It’s great to discuss with other designers and decorators what they envision and how they are making dreams happen.