How to Repair Gesso and Gilding on Frames

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Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper

  • Gold or silver leaf

  • Water

  • Glue

  • Calcium carbonate

  • Painter's brushes

  • Soft cloth

How to Repair Gesso and Gilding on Frames. Gesso and gilding make beautiful finishes on portrait and picture frames. Gesso is a mixture of powdered calcium carbonate applied to a frame before a final finish is applied. Gilding refers to the process of applying a metal leaf layer, such as gold or silver, to a frame. Use these steps to repair gesso and gilding on frames.


Try to apply the gesso in stages if more than one coat is desired. Gesso simply fills in the substrate of the wood for a smooth sticky surface for gold or silver leaf to adhere to. Look at the existing gesso if possible. Many old frames have gesso that is applied in one direction or in dabs.


Wear eye protection and a respirator for this project.


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