Traditional gilding techniques with Richard Walker

Ref: S4D32989

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About this course

This is an introduction to water gilding, oil gilding and glass gilding. This course includes ageing, distressing and toning, using traditional techniques. Water-gild a small frame with a gilded silver mirror. Develop oil gilding techniques on panels and a small object of your choice.

Course Description

This course will teach you about the mysterious and fascinating skill of gilding with gold-leaf and other precious metals. You will explore each of the three main disciplines of gilding: water, oil and glass gilding. Each style has its peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses. Using a wide variety of techniques, you will be able to create a full catalogue of desired finishes.

Oil Gilding:

Oil gilding is the most straightforward to learn and it produces quick and satisfactory results. It is easily learned by an amateur wishing to develop a new craft. Learn how to apply gold-leaf and other precious metals to a variety of surfaces. Work on sample panels to look at these effects, using a variety of leaf, including copper, silver and pure gold.

Do you have something in mind that you want to gild, such as a small frame, candlestick? Bring it along, and we will have a look at the items on the first evening together, so we will all benefit from each other’s ideas and development. Please be aware, however, that you may not have these finished by the end of the course.

Water gilding:

Learn the basics of water gilding - most usually employed to decorate picture frames and furniture. You will produce a small wooden frame (supplied by the College), using traditional water gilding techniques. Make up ancient recipes and apply gesso and bole to the surface, followed by the experience of laying the gold itself.

Sample panels are developed alongside the frame, as we look at different ways to create patterns and texture within gesso. The frame’s final finish will be burnished, distressed or antiqued, according to your taste.

Glass Gilding:

Glass gilding developed a resurgence in 18th Century France. You will celebrate this art by gilding a piece of glass to fit inside the water gilded frame in silver or white gold, creating a functional mirror. There are many ways to decorate the glass with drawn designs, blended finishes or painted areas.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • One wooden frame for water gilding
  • 2 x MDF sample boards
  • A piece of glass
  • Some gilding materials and gilding tools (excluding gold-leaf)
  • Some abrasive papers, used by the group
  • The following are also supplied for use during the course:
  • Gesso, rabbit skin glue and bole
  • Round ox hair brush or Nylon No. 8 or 6, 1/2” Flat nylon or ox hair brush, flat hog hair brush S40 1/2”
  • No 1 or 2 round sable brush, round pony hair or squirrel no. 8
  • Tiranti filling spatula No 46.

What students need to bring

  • Please email the following information to the tutor, via the [email protected] - it is essential that you do this at least ten days prior to the course:
  • Please give information of what has inspired your interest in gilding, any experience you may have and details of any items that you would like to bring along to the course to gild, in order to check for its suitability. Select a new object made of resin/metal or glass ornaments and bare wooden frames that are suitable for gilding.
  • You can bring anything along to gild, as long as it is safe. If you can paint it, you can gild it, including wood, metal, plaster, plastic, resin, ceramics and textiles. You may bring along several small items, acknowledging that the items may not all be completed in time, according to your practice.
  • It is important that you also bring along the following:
  • An old plate
  • A packet of baby wipes
  • Apron

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Books of gold leaf, around £30-35 per book of 25 leaves
  • Books of copper/ silver/ fake gold - around £5-10 per book - 25 larger leaves
  • A selection of gilding tools/brushes
  • A selection of extra MDF sample boards
  • Abrasive wet and dry paper - 180, 320, 600, 800
  • Masking tape

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals, and safety boots, if specified.


Richard Walker portrait

Richard Walker

Richard Walker studied gilding at the University of Portsmouth. Gilding for twenty years and teaching for fifteen, he has developed a global reputation to top artists, framers, furniture designers, interior designers and museums, where he is renowned for creating new and interesting ways of gilding surfaces in traditional and modern methods.​


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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