Verre Eglomise

Monogram S

Ha! Bet you don’t know what that means. Well, stay tuned and I’ll tell you all about it. As you know I wear a number of different trade hats here in ye olde shoppe. I’m a picture framer, an artist in water color and oil paints, custom sign letterer and a gilder. The gilder hat I wear is what this column is all about. As a picture framer, I gild picture frames in gold leaf. However, as a custom letterer, I also gild letters on glass. Verre eglomise is the art of gilding on glass.

This is an art form that dates back to the Romans. The term verre eglomise is French and was used in the revival of the art form in the 18th century. What this all means is that it is a very old practice. Surprisingly, it is done in much the same way as it was “back in the day”, at least the way I do it. No technological updates involved here.

In it’s basic form, verre eglomise is gold designs and or letters gilded on the back of glass in reverse, so that when viewed from the front, it reads correctly. The reason it is done on the back of the glass is because this allows for a water gilded application which yields a fabulous mirror finish to the lettering or design as well as it being protected by the surface of the glass. It can be used in signage, I’ve got two jobs in progress right now, monograms, which make very unique gifts of which I have one in progress, and other wall décor applications. The most common uses were from in the late 1800’s up until the 1980’s or so. Remember when professionals used to letter their name and profession, practice or store name on their doors or store fronts? Banks used to do it too. Often the street number address was lettered on the transom glass above the door. You can see mine as an example.

The long and short of it all is that there aren’t a lot of us doing this sort of thing these days and I’m happy to belong to this close knit group of artisans who ply the trade. The good news is that there is a revival in the art form and many professionals and businesses are looking at it as a way to stand out from the masses and be noticed. I’ve attended several workshops over the years to hone my skills. While these designs can be really elaborate, the basics alone are quite stunning. The above is a monogram example I did for a customer that represents a two tone gild, a mirror finish water gild and a matte finish size gild, all done in 23 kt gold, by hand.

This Friday evening I will be demonstrating the technique as well as having some examples and works in progress available during the Friday evening Art Stroll. Stop by if you get a chance. I’ll see you downtown.

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