Gilders’ Punch Tools

Cropped image of Annunciation from French manuscript

‘The Annunciation’ detail of an illumination I painted in 2004 – based on a French or Flanders manuscript, 12th C (original size approx 150 x 100mm)

Over ten years ago, I attended a series of workshops run by Patricia Lovett on gilding and traditional egg tempera painting skills. Patricia is enthusiastic, highly skilled and a natural teacher and part of our learning was to paint our own illuminations based on good quality examples of manuscripts. It was a wonderful introduction to the world of gilding on vellum and Patricia still runs these workshops from time to time, from her home in Kent.

I am particularly drawn to manuscripts of the Romansque period such as the one above, the original which is kept in the British Library and can be seen in The Illuminated Page by Janet Backhouse. For anyone interested in manuscripts, it is a wonderful  book. I bought my copy in the Blake Head Bookshop, Micklegate, York in 1997. The shop has long gone which is a great loss, but the book is a favourite and still available.

Having leafed through this book many times, I would often wonder how certain things were done, such as how a gilded background was tooled. Having spent long hours last summer learning to gild icons (see my earlier posts) it is really quite a challenge to get the smooth mirror gold shine of water gilding. For the example above, I used the tip of a gilders pointed pencil burnishing tool. Looking back on it now, it is fairly crude, but I was pleased with how the tiny indents sparkled when catching the light.

To see a startlingly impressive example of tooled gilding, from a later period (c.1395–1399) I would highly recommend a visit to the National Gallery in London, to see the Wilton Diptych.

Image of the WIlton Diptych

Image of the WIlton Diptych courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilton_Diptych

detail of Wilton Diptych tooling

Detail of background tooling on the above image of the WIlton Diptych

detail of tooled gilded background

Tooled background of the second panel of the WIlton Diptych

Crown detail Edward Confessor

Detail of crown of King Edward the Confessor from the Wilton Diptych

It has puzzled me as to the tools that might have been used to do this exquisite work and have googled high and low for anything that might be suitable. I discovered a blog by the classical realist painter Jerry Berg who described some of the tools which he had bought from a shop in Florence.

gilders punch tools

Gilders’ punch tools courtesy of Jerry Berg’s blog

Jerry gave an example of how the tool worked and I think that this might be worth investigating. So, this morning I was delighted to receive Cosimo Tasinari’s four page catalogue in the post which I have scanned for you here: Cosimo Tassinari Firenze Italy

gilders punch tools

Gilders punch tools courtesy of Jerry Berg’s blog

Contact details: Piero P. Fantechi, Ditta Cosimo Tassinari, Piazza S. Maria Novella 2r, Florence, 50123 Italy.      Ph: 0039 055-287-869    Fax: 0039 055-287-869      tassinari@infinito.it

Gilding, Tooling, and Stamping Supplies; Type – Hand Engraved Brass; Bookbinding Tools; Dies; Stamps and Rollers, Typeholders; Steel punchers for icons-gesso. Will cut tools to your design; hand-engraved seals made. English spoken.

I usually don’t like shopping but I would love a visit to this shop!

Hope this is useful and thanks for reading.

Ronnie

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