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water gilding

in this gilding technique, a smooth gesso is coated with a weak solution of gelatine, animal glue or glair (egg white), or with a weak solution of yellow bole mixed with one of these binders. Then several layers of bole are applied to build up a smooth opaque foundation. After this has dried, it is wet with gilders water to activate the binder, then gold leaf is laid immediately on the wet surface. Later, the leaf can be burnished with agate to achieve a brilliant shiny surface (known as burnished water-gilding) or left matte. Matte water-gilding usually requires double gilding; when the first layer of gold leaf is dry, the second leaf is applied in a similar manner. When the surface is dry it is often protected with a layer of a weak solution of animal glue with the addition of up to 10% diluted seedlac or shellac, which helps achieve a distinctive deep matte appearance.


also known as woodblock print, this is a form of relief printing. An image is drawn directly onto the surface of a block of wood, which is cut parallel to the grain rather than the end grain of a piece of wood (as in wood engraving). The parts that are to be left white (ie unprinted) are cut away, leaving the areas to be printed standing in relief. These raised surfaces are inked and then printed, either in a press or by hand using a tool called a baren.