How to Repair Gesso and Gilding on Frames

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.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Gold or silver leaf
  • Water
  • Glue
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Painter's brushes
  • Soft cloth

Tips & Warnings

  • 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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