The manufacturing techniques used at Sudbury Picture Frames are largely unchanged since the 19th century. We take traditionally shaped wooden mouldings which are covered with smooth layers of gesso. Our gesso is made by us from the traditional mixture of whiting and natural glue, which is heated to turn it liquid, applied to the timber and allowed to cool. We have hundreds of moulds, which we use to make the decorative details in composition, a thickened form of gesso. These are applied to the frame in the form of flowers, leaves, scrolls, or classical patterns.
If the design of the frame is serpentine or ‘swept’, then parts of the wooden frame are carved away to give the shaped outline, with piercing through some of the decorative elements. At this stage, some frames will be inscribed in the gesso with lines, cross hatching, or punched with decorative rings and indentations.
The next stage is to apply several thin coats of coloured clay, (‘bole’) to the gessoed surfaces. This can be worked into a very smooth surface suitable for receiving gold leaf. Once the clay dries, water is applied to a small section of the frame. When a piece of gold leaf is brought into contact with the damp surface, it is pulled onto the clay surface by surface tension, and when dry can be burnished to a brilliant finish. If an antique finish is required, the gilded surface is distressed by rubbing through the gilding to reveal the coloured bole underneath, and then a variety of tones, coloured washes and powders are used to dull the bright gold to give a more subdued effect.
About Us | Techniques