Margaret Stead –How long does it take to gild the book?
Paul Tronson – Gilding is a specific art in itself and demands a keen eye, a steady hand and total concentration as there is only one chance with no room for errors, a mistake can be fatal causing the book to be stripped down and bound again, the principle rules of temperature, depth and dwell should be applied at all times. In short there is a preparation time, the white of an egg with a few additions is beaten to a froth and left to stand for an hour, the gold leaf is one 250,000th of an inch thick so with the slightest draught it will be lost. The tools you are using are heated and cooled to the correct temperature, the design you are creating is first “blind” tooled direct to the book and the egg white or “glair” is carefully painted into the relief, this in turn is left to dry for an hour.
The gold leaf is cut with a gold knife, a hand made piece of paper is electrified by rubbing under my unshaven chin causing static, this will lift the gold allowing it to be laid into position. The tools are then heated and cooled to the correct temperature, too hot and it will burn through the gold leaf, too cool and the gold won’t apply. Working blind you need to find the exact position of the previous impression, slightly off you will get 2 impressions one blind one gold, some old binders liked to wipe a little Vaseline over the tool to pick up the gold and work it in but if the tool is too hot the oils will tarnish the gold. Gilding the edges of a book is just as complicated as you need to use earth pigments such as Armenian Bole, black lead etc. Well you did ask!