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Gilding for Matter Decoration and Sublimation. A Brief History of the Artisanal Technical Know-how

Abstract : The process used to decorate art objects with thinner and thinner gold coatings varied during centuries. Foil or leaf metal gilding technology was complemented around the beginning of the Christian era by mercury gilding. Simultaneously was developed in some geographic areas the surface depletion process for gilded copper/silver alloys. This paper is motivated by the recent publication by the authors of a didactic opus devoted to the description and the discussion of the technical history of the various gilding procedures, based on the study by modern investigation techniques of a number of gilded museum objects. Through examples from laboratory studies on museum objects, the main evolution steps of gold application are described. A recent mechanical modelling work about gold leaf forming by beating is reported. The different coating processes are discussed, depending on the substrate nature and surface treatment before gilding. It includes high temperature firing for mercury gilding, or powder gilding, e.g. on Middle-Age Syria glass. The paper ends with a listing of the research perspectives open for the presently poorly developed study of the adhesion mechanisms between gold leaf and its substrate. It discusses the important issue of gold-metal interdiffusion during metal gilding processes involving a high temperature step.
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Evelyne Darque-Ceretti, Marc Aucouturier. Gilding for Matter Decoration and Sublimation. A Brief History of the Artisanal Technical Know-how. 1st International Conference on Innovation in Art Research and Technology, Jul 2013, Evora, Portugal. pp.647-660. ⟨hal-00942768⟩

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