Craig Deller 

Conservation of Historic & Artistic Objects

Cleaning Oil Gilding with Resin Soap

This video describes the use of an abietic acid/water-based resin soap* on the oil-gilded sections of this clock case pillar. An audio narrative begins at the halfway mark. The gilding had been coated with colophony which had deteriorated and darkened.

Cleaning Gilded Surfaces II (Water-Gilding)

This second video moves to the water-gilding sections of the clock case pillar. In the first video, we used a water-based resin soap on the oil-gilded sections as water does not disrupt the oil-based adhesive holding the gold leaf. Water-gilding is quite different in that the entire substrate (gesso, bole, and adhesive) is based on rabbit skin glue (RSG), a water-soluble material in which any contact with water will reactivate the RSG and remove the gold leaf.

Our Recent Work

Mid 19thC Calendar Clock Bezel

Pre-Treatment

Large Calendar Clock Bezel

This Mid 19thC calendar clock bezel is 36 inches wide and 7 inches high. It came into the lab with multiple previously applied layers of gold paint, distorted fills, and repairs. This video shows its Pre-Treatment condition.

During Treatment

Previously added materials removed

This short video shows the condition of the surface after all added materials were removed. Curiously, no traces of any original gold leaf was found, which was the original assumption made by both myself and the collector client. However, it now appears the surface was originally faux-grain with an oak pattern, most unusual for the Mid 19thC period the bezel was created. See Images below.

Close up of the faux-grained oak pattern, while extremely faint, there is no layer between the painted oak pattern and the gesso base

These details also indicate the original surface a faux-grain oak pattern. The photo to the right also shows a heavy added layer over the original surface unreactive to the solvents used to remove the previous layers of paint and fills.