step by Step

beginnings sketch and phots
I usually gild several glass panels at a time with transfer leaf. In this way I have more choice when matching a suitable gold panel to the image or subject matter. The image is just as important for the effectiveness of the final piece of work and the two are married with careful consideration.

For 'First Snow', shown on the left, a glass panel was chosen from my stock. I was particularly attracted by its unusual patterning, incorporating two sheets of gold leaf and a slightly bigger size of 8x12cm. 

The image I had in mind for it was from a photograph I had taken of my daughter, Eliana, age 2. It was her first experience of snow and the shot captured the moment she turned around, cold and fed up.
drawing onto glass
In preparation for sketching the photograph of Eliana, the image is printed in high definition on an A4 sheet of photo paper together with a smaller version, to help with scale. 

Once the sketch is finished it can be placed onto a light box, the gilded glass panel placed on top and secured with tape. The outline of the sketch can then be traced through the gold using a fine needle tool or hard pencil. However, this cannot always be achieved, as the light does not penetrate the more dense areas of gold. Viewed through a magnifying glass, most of the drawing is done straight onto the gold, using the sketch and photographs as reference.

Each time I begin drawing on the gold panel, there is always a sense of anticipation and pressure to do it right first time, but once I start, I relax and try not to worry about it...I tell myself, if it doesn't work out I can always do it again. Nine times out of ten this works and the drawings are completed with satisfaction.
first snow
Drawing straight onto the gold using a fine needle tool the etched side of the gold is the 'wrong' side, as the image will be viewed through the glass. 

As the process suggests the gold is engraved, etched away and the details and gentle shading can be built up using a combination of stippling and cross hatching. 

Once marks are made in the gold it is difficult to correct mistakes, although not entirely impossible. Gold leaf can be carefully reapplied to an area to cover a mistake, although, when working in such small detail it can be very risky. A 1mm spot of size covers an area of 5mm and if any grease residue is on the glass the gold will not adhere to the surface.

To work on the gilded glass panel I place it on a black velour covered board. This prevents the glass panel from slipping when working on it and can be flipped over regularly to view the marks created through the glass, as it progresses towards the final image.
first snow stage two
Once I'm happy with the final image, it is signed. I use my initials, 'CMR', always remembering to sign in reverse!

To seal and protect the gold leaf, as well as enhancing the design, oil based paint or enamel paint is applied to the entire glass panel, covering the gold. The colour of the paint only shows through where there are gaps in or around the gold. 

I prefer to use either red or black paint as it gives lovely definition to the design and complements the gold. It is left to dry overnight and the finished picture will be revealed for the first time and can be framed. Once framed, an acid-free backing board covers the painted area of the picture and secured ready to display.
first snow finiahed piece
Gold was the first metal widely known to early humans and we consider the development of iron and copper-working as the greatest technological achievement to our early species - but gold came first. Its natural beauty, luster and great malleability, with a resistance to tarnish, made it pleasureable to work and play with for thousands of years.

Creating art with gold unearths a primative desire for this treasure and the particular medium of Verre Églomisé, is both challenging and enjoyable, with the potential to be developed in so many ways.

'First Snow' 8x12cm 22.5ct gold leaf