Charles Prendergast Inspired Gilded Keepsake Box

A fine gilded box inspired by early 20th century frame maker Charles Prendergast

A nearby corporate client recently called with a challenge that allowed our imaginations to jump the tracks. A beloved, longtime colleague was retiring, and they asked us to create a keepsake box that would contain handwritten memories and wishes from those she had worked with for many years.

Naturally, we applied techniques used when decorating frames. The design for the keepsake box was inspired by Charles Prendergast, who created highly-prized, original frames at the Carrig-Rohane frame shop that he co-founded in Boston in the early 20th century. Prendergast was a pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement that placed an emphasis on designs highlighting the human touch.

The keepsake box was water-gilded with 12K white gold after layers of red clay were applied underneath. We used a sharp stylus to scratch the design in the gold and through the clay. This process is called granito and is completed by rubbing gently through the gold so the red clay peeks through, especially along the scratch lines. Blue pigment was used to highlight the floral design.

We are grateful to those who entrusted us with this important job — what a great gift that could be used for so many occasions including weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and graduations.

Gilding Demonstration & Shop Tours

Step back into the 17th century with us!

Join us Saturday afternoon, June 25th from 1 – 3 pm for a public gilding demonstration and tours through the back rooms of our shop.

Few people know about what goes on regularly in the back rooms of our shop space, restoring and reproducing antique frames for collectors and museum clients. This summer we have a number of projects in process that illustrate almost every aspect of antique restoration and reproduction that GFAF is capable of, including gold leafing, hand-carving, casting, burnishing, and antiquing. Often, these projects involve historical research, custom millwork, and methods of material application that are centuries old. We use simple materials & simple tools. Rabbit skin glue, chalk, clay, wood, wax, water, and 22 K gold leaf. Knives, gouges, steel wool, fine sandpaper, and a “gilders tip” made of squirrel hair.

The craft of gold leaf gilding goes back over 4,000 years to Northern Africa where gold foil was applied to wood to give the appearance of being made of solid gold. The methods of gilding used today are rooted in ancient Egypt and were later refined during the Renaissance.

Gold leaf is defined as thin sheets of gold, silver or less-precious metals, pounded down into “leaves” nearly 1/250,000 of an inch thick. The variety of genuine gold can differ in values from deep gold (23-24K) to lemon gold (18K), pale gold (16K), and white gold (12K), which are alloyed with small amounts of silver and/or copper.

Gold leafing is a generalized term used to group the three most common methods for applying gold to a prepared surface: water gilding, oil gilding, and what is commonly referred to as metal leafing. Throughout the ages the process of gold leafing has been used to create beautiful works of art, sculpture, and architecture.

Jun 2016
AUTHOR braydee

Framing, News

COMMENTS No Comments

Water Gilded Italian Mannerist Frame

Despite being difficult to capture in photos, the finishing touches on our water gilded frames make all the difference. This morning, Brian added centuries of age to this Italian Mannerist frame with rottenstone before pairing it with its new oil painting other half.


italian mannerist frame

Apr 2014
AUTHOR braydee

Framing, News

COMMENTS No Comments