GILDING A FRAME
Whether it is a commissioned or a Frame Catalog selection, P.H. Miller Studio always uses a multi-step process beginning with selecting pieces of raw bass wood molding that are cut and joined in the Studio's woodworking shop with splined joinery.
Before the gilding process, frames may be hand carved, depending on the design, with gouges and chisels. The carving process includes design, layout, and, in some cases, shaping the wood into the desired profile.
In the tradition of Middle Ages and Renaissance craftsmen, frames are covered with eight layers of gesso, a mixture of calcium carbonate, water and hide glue. The gessoed surface then is hand sanded until smooth to a nearly flawless luster.
Bole, a mix of clay and glue, also is applied to prepare the surface for the application of gold leaf.
Next, the gold leaf is applied using traditional water gilding techniques. Then a blend of pigments, shellacs and waxes is used to tone solutions that are applied to mimic the appearance of an aged patina on the frame.
The finishing touch to a P.H. Miller Studio frame is on the back, which is painted and signed “P.H. Miller” with the date, in Roman numerals, indicating the month and year of its completion. The result is a one-of-a-kind, handmade and signed frame that is as much a work of art as the art it surrounds.