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Case study

Gilding Survey at Windsor Castle

Specialist gilding conservators conduct a survey of all the giltwood furniture

Consolidation process at workshop

Aside from the issue that the gilded surface is delicate and easily worn, there is an inherent problem with the way materials used in gilding behave over time. The timber beneath the gesso will always be subject to changes in temperature and humidity, which can cause it to shrink or expand. The gesso layer, however, becomes rigid once it has dried completely. Overtime, this can lead to gaps and hollows between the timber and the gesso, making the gesso layer extremely vulnerable.

Gilding conservators can feed diluted glue into cracks in the gilded surface and re-adhere any loose gesso before it falls off. If a loss has already occurred it is usually filled with a gesso putty, made from the same materials as the original gesso.

Specialist gilding conservators Carvers and Gilders recently conducted a survey of all the giltwood furniture at Windsor Castle; more than 860 items! They helped to identify any loose carving, joints or unstable surfaces so that our conservators can treat them before they become a significant problem.

Watch this film to see how at-risk pieces of giltwood are identified and how they are then treated the conservation workshop.

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Processes used in this study

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Process
Gilding