March 12, 2005 at 5:00 am #73793
I have a Lyon and Healy stlye 17 gold and I was wondering if there
is any way to clean the guilded parts of the column and base.March 13, 2005 at 5:00 am #73794carl-swansonParticipant
Don’t even THINK of cleaning it yourself.March 13, 2005 at 5:00 am #73795
Thanks.March 13, 2005 at 5:00 am #73796
Carl is totally right that for big cleaning you need a pro.
I have had some success with getting rid of surface dirt by using the old-fashioned
method–bread. Get a loaf of icky white squishy wonderbread type bread (Not good strong
bread, like sandwich bread), and tear off a small piece of the white part. Press this very
gently onto the gilding and it will bring some of the dirt and dust with it when you pick it
back up. Be very, very careful and try it on a very inconspicuous place first. If the gesso is
damp, you can pick up the gold as well as the dirt, so utmost caution is advised. It’s very
labor intensive, but it does help a bit. A soft untreated (most dusters have endust type
junk in them these days, so investigate before buying) feather duster or a very soft
makeup brush will brush out any crumbs. Don’t use a duster that has feathers with
pronounced spines in the feathers, and not a lambswool duster.
This isn’t going to do anything about fingerprints or big dirt, and frankly, most places will
suggestMarch 13, 2005 at 5:00 am #73797
I should have added, never, never touch the gold. Wear gloves when you do this, because
it’s just human nature to reach for the column when you need to turn the harp or resituate
yourself.March 15, 2005 at 5:00 am #73798
Hello Beth, Prehaps the Society of Gilders could be of assistance in locating a gilder in your area. They have a website at http://www.societyofgilders.org. Maybe even Lyon and Healy could make a suggestion, or contact a curator at your closest art musuem. I wouldn’t attempt a cleaning either without consulting an expert as I would be afraid to damage the gesso and bole underneath the leaf. Best of luck to you, CeCe NelsonMarch 15, 2005 at 5:00 am #73799
Just a caution about hiring a general gilder–you would need one who does seriously
museum quality restoration and who has a very thorough understanding of water gilding.
The average frame/architectural/sign gilder does something quite different.
FWIW, the older L&H harps are double-gilded with double leaf in a weight which is, alas,
no longer available.March 15, 2005 at 5:00 am #73800
One other thing about cleaning–in most cases the problem is the dust and oil that has
adhered to/damaged the lacquer, and there’s no easy solution to that, even from a pro.
AFAIK, there is really no way to remove just the lacquer without taking the gold with it. I
recently saw a video from the Cleveland Museum of Art in which their curator said flat-out
that while restoration techniques for micro-removal of the upper layers of varnish on
paintings have become very much more sophisticated in recent years, there still isn’t much
they can do about removing just the lacquer from gilding.
Last time I checked a factory regild from L&H was $20,000. I presume it’s substantially
more than that now.March 15, 2005 at 5:00 am #73801TacyeParticipant
Gilding is complicated and as Carl pointed out you really don’t want to go wrong- so asking L&H and trying anything they suggest on a small area is probably the best bet.
Gilding is traditionally done by one of two methods- water gilding or oil gilding and they react very differently to various cleaning methods.March 15, 2005 at 5:00 am #73802
One thing that L&H usually suggests you want to stay far away from, and that’s the touch-
up pen they were pushing for a while (don’t know if they still do). It is not gold, but gold
paint, and in a couple of months the areas you use it on will look much worse than the
dings did.March 16, 2005 at 5:00 am #73803carl-swansonParticipant
It’s so nice to hear some intelligent conversation about gilding from harpists.
They usually have no idea how it’s applied or how delicate it is.March 16, 2005 at 5:00 am #73804
I e-mailed L & H on this and here is the response:
If you simply want to remove dust that is in the carving, we recommend
using a large brush such as a stencil brush that is available from our
accessory department or from our website http://www.harp.com. We would
definitely not suggest using any kind of polish or liquid cleaner on the
gold parts of the harp.
Lyon & HealyMarch 16, 2005 at 5:00 am #73805
Also someone mentioned water and oil guilding, which method is commonly used today and in the past?March 16, 2005 at 5:00 am #73806
Oil gilding is used on Erards and most earlier harps. L&H, Wurlitzer, Carl’s harps are water
gilded. (I believe Howard Bryan uses oil gilding now, but am not totally sure about that.)
L&H in their heyday brought water gilding to a very high state of perfection–you won’t
find many twentieth century gilders to equal their best work.
New gilding, whether water or oil,March 16, 2005 at 5:00 am #73807
Actually, I would presume that Carl’s gilder uses water or oil depending on what was on
the harp orignially.
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