For centuries, European artisans
have been building frames in the Neoclassical tradition of water gilding, an elaborate process in which clay, gesso
and precious metal leaf are applied by hand to carved wooden frames. Until now, these individually crafted designs were unavailable to most American consumers, but custom framemaker Larson-Juhl
has teamed up with an atelier in Lille, France to introduce this process to the United States.
Craig Ponzio, owner and chief designer for Larson-Juhl, creates his designs in the company’s Georgia studio,
then sends them to the Lille factory, where they are gilded by any of the 30 artisans who have received more than five years of training in this painstaking technique, which involves removing each delicate
piece of leaf from a one-and-a-half inch stack of 10,000 and applying it to the frame using a swift and precise motion. Once set in place, the gold or silver is then gently rubbed with a sheep’s-wool cloth
to create a lustrous finish. The effect is a richly textured surface with an antique finish.