Door sign work was requested by a client who own, revovate & rent out as office space at a historic building on Eastcheap, Central London.
With this in mind they required a roundel with the street number set inside. This was their design & wished for it to be produced by gild gold leaf.
The size of the design to be produced on their front door window fanlight was also given by the clients.
There was a few delays with the job, which were down to other renovations the clients were having produced by other contractors.
The door sign was to be produced on the fanlight, which can’t be seen in the above image, as the entrance is set back behind the ornate gates.
The paper layout, which was produced to scale prior to being on site, was measured to the centre of the window & stuck in place on the outside of the glass. The light then allows the design to be seen on the inside of the glass like a light box.
The outlines of the design are then painted using a specialist fast drying paint, so that the centres of the design can then have the gold leaf added to the door sign without too much dry time waiting.
The next stage was to apply the size to the centres of the numbers of the door sign. This is all brushed on by hand using specialist signwriting brushes. Its essential the size is applied as smoothly & consistantly as possible. This way the gold can be applied to it & all of the size has the same sticky consistancy to apply the gold to all of it at once.
The size has a little powder added which helps in making the smokey or frosted look. This just helps with the consistancy of application. It also helps in seeing that the size has covered all the centre without missing close to the outlines.
With the glass being such a big pane & there being a large area to be covered in gold, time was of the essence to get all the sign writing applied with the gold leaf sheets.
The gold was laid onto all the door sign signwriting, but didn’t want to take to the size very well & was rather patchy. This seemed quite odd as to why it occured. To ensure this wasn’t an error on my part, the numbers were wiped off & reproduced.
The size was remixed with powder & repainted into the centres of the numbers, once the outlines had been touched up. The gold was then relaid as it should be but again the result was a patchy finish with parts of the door sign not allowing the gold to stick.
Again the gold was laid with it covering all of the signwriting. Once allowed to dry & burnished, it still didn’t all want to stay stuck & was again left patchy. It was a real head scratcher. The clients were informed & it was agree I would give it one more attempt.
Unfortunately the job was during the ‘Beast from the East’ which was a freezing blast which created snow, sleet & temperatures plummeting to serveral degrees below minus. It was asked that the heater above the window be turned off as that could’ve been the cause of the problems. Unfortunately it was a freshly renovated building, The clients didn’t know how to turn it off & there was no-one on site, as it was before the building was in use.
The only option was to try to restrict the air & heat from the heater. All there was that could be used was the drawn layout for the door sign. Once the outlines were painted on using the layout, it was torn in half & taped over the vent as much as possible. The power of the heater was still quite strong as it had to warm a whole reception area of an old building. The heat was so hot that it was making the glass hot, but when you realise the temperature of the glass on the outside was -5 or so, it made for a near impossible temperature to lay the size on, without parts drying far quicker than others.
The size was applied as well as it could be & the gold added to it as swiftly as possible. The contrast between the heat & the freezing cost created some condensation & other problems, but I gave it longer time to dry & harden to make the burnishing of the excess gold a bit more chance of it not taking the laid gold with the excess.
The burnished gold looked as well as it could in the circumstances & the clients were pleased that the work was able to be completed before their offices opened to their tenants, which was the following few days, once the ‘beast from the east’ had passed.
The completed door sign on the window with the entrance gates in shot too, a nice finishing touch to an improved grand entrance of some freshly improved historic building right in the shaow of the ‘walkie talkie’ & sky garden building.
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