Sign & Digital Graphics

December '14

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • December 2014 • 95 San Francisco Gilding Gilding technique in 49 easy steps I n September, I traveled to the 2014 Micromeet Letterhead gathering in Petaluma, California, with Andy Laurence of Gentleman Scholar Signs in San Francisco. On the way, Andy told me about a recent project where he completed a long line of reverse-gilded letters on glass. Andy is a mostly self-taught young sign painter who uses traditional techniques that he picks up from books, magazines and Letterhead meets. In keeping with the new wave of retro-old-school sign painters, this usually means brushes, paint and gilding tips, not vinyl and plot- ters. At times, there has been an out-and-out mutiny against modern methods, but lately some practical business realities have begun appearing on the scene. Andy recounted how he used his new plotter to try a masking technique I wrote about in a previous article. It's odd because he is much more adept and comfortable with traditional gilding than I was at his age. He mentioned how long it took to outline every- thing with a brush once he had gilded the letters using a paint mask. I cringed at this because "Mr. Family" over here needs to finish jobs much more quickly and profitably than do the young, hip and childless. So I commenced to expound upon my newly perfected gild masking concept and I was dismayed that I couldn't make myself clear using bar coasters and napkins as props. I realized it was a challenge to convey my ideas even to someone who has already mastered his own acceptable way of doing it. A few days later, I was work- ing on a similar job in San Francisco, so I had the perfect opportunity to note every detail of my work, large and small. There are many ways to modify my recipe to taste, but in general, if you practice and fol- low them closely, you should be able to accomplish the process profitably. Step 1: Confirm that the client wants 23k gold leaf. People are misnaming gilding by many bogus names like gold film, paint, foil and stickers. Step 2: If they really want gold, determine whether they want a classic water gild, which looks like a mir- ror, or a matte second-surface gild, which glows like a ring, but not like shiny gold plate. This can be done with emailed photos, samples or local examples. Step 3: Base price on a reasonable time and materi- als estimate at the highest pay scale, hopefully $100- $125 per hour. Obviously you will adjust for your local economy. Step 4: Calculate the amount of gold needed, which could be around two square feet of gild area Steven Vigeant owns Berkeley Signs, a commercial sign company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. Visit his website at or contact him at B y S T E V E N V I G E A N T Looking for Trouble MASTER'S TOUCH Look closely to see the previously cut outline left un- weeded. Here I am using the gray/greenish Hexis lo-tack "Stencil" paint mask. It is very soft and easy to weed the outline as a subsequent step after the gold size is applied. At this point I need to consider the speed I want to work at. I prefer to do a few letters at a time in batches of 7-9 letters with 1 hour fast size. In theory it would be possible to apply size to all the letters at once with 12 hour size which would require waiting over night to gild.

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