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Antique Furniture Carving and Gilding Restoration, Renovation and Repair

As part of Green & Cockburn's vast antique restoration expertise we are able to undertake, to the finest degree, oil and water gilding.

Example of our Gilding restoration work

Gilded objects such as a antique mirror or picture frame, or antique furniture pieces are damaged relatively easily if they are knocked and gilding can discolour or wear away.

The process of gilding, particularly on antique gilded mirror and picture frames, involves many hours of intensive work in order to replicate various designs and seamlessly repair damaged pieces.

Our workshop is fully equipped for antique gilding and restoration using traditional methods and materials.

Oil and Watercolour Painting Restoration

Oil and watercolours can become very dirty through nicotine deposits and general age. They may become torn or they may need to be re-streched there is also the possibility that areas of paint are missing. We are capable of restoring your picture to its original standard of beauty and originality.

Carving Restoration

Many pieces of antique furniture and clocks include items of decorative carving and it is often these parts that suffer from wear and tear the most.

As Green & Cockburn undertake a great deal of furniture restoration, it is often necessary to perform carving on replacement timber that is crafted to give the piece it's original look and feel.

Relief and incised carving can be carried out to the highest standard, which will enable a true restoration for any item of antique furniture.

Furniture carving example

 

When the restoration of antique items are carried out, the repair needs to be done in such a way that restoration is unnoticeable, and more importantly the period remains intact.

Examples of gilded antique furniture, mirrors and picture frame restoration work

Two finely carved and gilded pier mirrors circa 1690

We have recently undertaken the restoration of two pier mirrors circa 1690. These two mirrors came into our workshop in an absolutely appalling condition, the gold had deteriorated to such a stage it was hard to tell the gold from the later painted bronze finish which had been applied at some stage within the Victorian period.

Below you can see the two mirrors in question the one on the left is missing the gesso decoration at the bottom and the one on the right has many sections of gold and gesso missing from the round spears either side. Both mirrors are in dire need of restoration as most of the gesso is loose.

Pier mirrors prior to restoration.jpg

The gesso was falling away from the carved substrate pretty well everywhere you looked.

To restore these mirrors:

  • First all the loose gesso and gold and broken sections of acanthus leaf were removed, any loose and broken areas were glued (the glue used within the repair work was of course animal glue as per the original construction).
  • Missing sections of acanthus foliage had to be made from lime as per the original.
  • When the substrate was firm and everything had been glued the two mirrors were cleaned down removing any of the old and distressed gold.
  • Gesso was then applied to the missing areas in some cases this was applied fairly thickly. Gesso was then applied in less concentration over the whole of the two mirrors. This was then carved and cut back and smoothed.
  • The next stage was to apply the clay bole. This clay is used under gold leaf so that the gold can be burnished. This process is undertaken using tools such as Agate stones.
  • When the clay has been laid this again has to be carved and smoothed to follow the original carvers profile and this needs to be smooth to such a degree that the gold when laid looks like hard gold metal.
  • The gold is then laid with rabbit skin glue very carefully and tampered with cotton wall.
  • After a while the gold is burnished to a high sheen but then of course these mirrors look rather new therefore an ageing process has to be undertaken adding natural dirt looking minerals such as raw umber into areas where they would normally gather.

Below you can see a picture of one side of one of the mirrors after the gilding process has been completed, with all the mirrors Spears repaired and finished.

gilded mirror side repaired  Below you can see the fine detail on one of the crests after restoration work. The completed item should look like it's been carved from gold.

crest of newly gilded frame.jpg

Below you can see a photograph of the two finished gilded Pier mirrors.

Gilded mirror repaired

17th century French cushion mirror

We were recently asked to undertake the restoration of a particularly fine but very much damaged French 17th-century cushion mirror.

These mirrors are generally composed of a wooden background where sections of mirrored glass are laid with highly intricate mouldings and sometimes carvings or in this particular case pressed floral work made from brass and then gilded.

As you can see the mirror is looking a little sorry for itself and missing sections of the floral corner patterns are evident as one can see by the corners.

Cushion mirror before restorationCushion mirror before restoration

Most of the floral work had to be replaced using copper and brass sheet hammered onto any remaining floral work which was used as a copy.

Below is a picture of the original corner floral pattern which was broken in many places.

Floral corner pattern prior to restoration

These floral sections were made by compressing copper over a carved oak substrate and then attaching it to the main body of the item, this was done with lead as per the original concept.

Below you can see a photograph of more of the damaged mirror including some insight as to the moulding.

Exploded view of some of the brass work and moulding The moulding is made from ebony which is really hard and profoundly difficult to work. If you look at the moulding carefully you can see that it has horizontal and vertical cut lines interposing one another. This makes it tricky and quite difficult to reproduce.

You can also see the condition of the original brass work and a corner where the floral gilded work should be.

Below you can see images of the fully restored mirror.

Cushion mirror after restoration

The mirror restoration is complete, the corner gilded floral sections have been made and parts of the ebony moulding have been restored and the mirror gilded.

Below you can see the detail involved in the manufacturer of one of the corner mounts.

Cushion mirror after restoration

Cushion mirror after restoration

Gilded frame circa 1800

This rather nice frame came into our workshop extremely damaged, it had fallen from a wall and bounced twice.

  • The frame had to be taken apart completely, the original corners had to be broken as the nails holding them were bent.
  • Broken parts were then glued back using animal glue and missing segments of gesso were made and applied to the frame, cracks that had appeared in the frame from general age are also repaired at this stage.

Broken Frame Broken frame

  • Above you can see the broken frame with the corners and age cracks.
  • After the missing segments have been applied and the new gesso made and fixed, clay is added to the surface structure of the frame so it can be burnished.
  • The gold which is 23 1/2 carat is then added using rabbit skin glue, this is a very time-consuming process as every section of the frame needs to be covered.
  • When the glue is dry the gilded frame can be burnished using an agate stone.

Below you can see some sections of the newly gilded frame.

Gilded frame after restoration Gilded frame after restoration

Restoration of two 17th-century pier glasses

Two rather fine 17th-century pier glasses with fitted candle sconces, the gilding on these frames has become broken and distressed, there are many splits and sections of gilding that are missing.

Below you can see pictures of the pier glasses, prior to restoration.

Pier mirror before restoration Second Pier mirroe before restoration

The restoration process was:

  • First to remove the mercury covered glasses then to repair the splits in the frame with animal glue very carefully as one must not loose the shape of the actual frame.
  • The next process is to remove any old gold work and gesso, when this is done new gesso can be made and relaid.
  • When the gesso is dried this needs to be carved back to the shape required.
  • When this is done, clay is made and laid on to the gesso, when this is dry the clay is carved back to show the frame as it should be, it is then gilded.

Below you can see a picture of one of the frames in mid restoration, the main glass framework has been repaired and had its gesso and clay applied, the outer decorative area has been gilded.

Pier mirror mid restoration

Below you can see a picture of the finished pier glasses.

Pier glasses after restoration

We would be more than happy to show you examples of our gilding and carving work on antique furniture on request.

Looking for an experienced antique gilding or carving restorer - contact Green & Cockburn on …
Tel : 01462 790646 or E-mail : enquiries@greenrestoration.co.uk