After doing the sign painting workshop with Mike Meyer, I knew I wanted to do a gold gilding workshop next. There is something so insanely gorgeous about gold leaf and glass. Once I signed up for the class taking place from March 13 – 17, 2018, I learned from my family that my great-grandfather Alva learned how to gold gild before he learned to sign paint. I wondered if that might be why I’m so attracted to this beautiful trade. I have gold in my veins.
Thursday: Getting to Mazeppa
Where the hell is Mazeppa?! Right?! Well, it’s a quaint little town just south of Minneapolis. Ashley (who I met in Mike’s sign painting class) and I decided to go together. She flew in from Tucson and I flew in from Phoenix. We met in Minneapolis and met up with Sam who would be the assistant for our workshop.
By the time we got in it was dinner time in the midwest and Sam decided to take us to get a meal we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. He took us to the famous Matt’s Bar who lays claim to inventing the Jucy Lucy. It’s a burger with molten cheese inside and it was delicious.
After dinner, we drove a little over an hour to get to Mazeppa and it was lightly sprinkling and cold, but we were so giddy to be at Mike’s shop nothing could ruin it for us. As I walked into the shop it smelled of One Shot and paint thinner, which is one of my favorite smells in the world because it means I’m most likely doing something I love. We were given a tour and shown where we were going to sleep in the shop.
Ashley and I took the two top bunks at the top of this vertical eight-step ladder and I felt like I was on a pirate ship. I loved every minute of it. I knew I had to go to sleep as we would be starting super early in the morning, but I laid there for what felt like forever as I imagined what the next day would be like.
Friday: There’s A Lot of Cleaning in Gold Gilding
Early morning and I couldn’t wait to get up, even though I am the worst morning person ever. I will be honest, I was nervous too. I thought, what if I suck at this. What if I’m not good? I’m going to be letting the whole family history down. Then I realized I should probably just turn off my thinking and pay attention.
The first thing we were taught is that the glass has to be clean like fancy people are coming to dinner and you’re breaking out the fancy china clean. We were introduced to Bon Ami, an 1886 soap company. The bricks of Bon Ami were made of only two ingredients and didn’t scratch the clean while getting down deep into the pours to pull out all the dirt and oil from the glass. Bon Ami no longer makes them in the cake version, they do make a powder version though it is not the same formula and is not recommended for cleaning glass. She advised us to scoop up any cakes we could find on eBay or at vintage shops.
After learning to wipe on and wipe off, we got the first lesson in how to hold the gold packet, the tip, and our knife. It’s not easy and definitely takes some practice with your non-dominant hand. Finally, I laid my first sheet of gold. I had to take a moment and admire it.
After laying the first and second rounds of gold, which took us most of the day, we switched to our second project. It was a large Spring panel designed by Anne which you can see in the background of the image above. We had to decide and develop our color palettes so we could start painting them.
Saturday: Gold Gilding Surfaces
While most of our gold gilding projects were reverse on glass, we did one project on a wood plaque. This gild used a fast oil-based size rather than a water size. We had to make sure we painted test patches and checked regularly so the size wouldn’t over dry and we wouldn’t be able to apply the gold.
When our surface gild was drying we then were able to go back to our Share the Gilt piece and add fun things such as shells, glitter, and variegated leaf. This gave each of our pieces such different personality it was great to see the differences.
After we did this, the rest of our day consisted of finishing up all of our projects where ever we needed to and then letting everything dry.
Sunday: Heading up to Minneapolis
Sunday morning we After packing up all of our pieces and all of the fun gold gilding goodies I purchased (thanks Anne!!) Ashley and I headed up to Minneapolis to spend a day wandering around and trying all the food we could. Sam stayed and had dinner with us before we checked into our Airbnb. Once we arrived, we were greeted by this giant Great Dane and that dog was amazing. I wish all Airbnbs had dogs.
Monday: Back to Phoenix
We ventured out for breakfast and ate at this little old school diner where there was a low top in front of the grill and you could see them cooking your food. It was called Our Kitchen, it is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever there.
After breakfast, we walked around and Minneapolis is beautiful, the houses are cute and the magnolia trees were blooming. It smelled really good. I also fell in love with this yellow house with white trim. Another home had red tulips out from blooming in the freshly cut green grass. If you could have put that yard with that house it would have been a dream.
Sam came and picked me up to take me to the airport shortly before lunch. I was nervous because I purchased a glass holder from Better Letters and everyone was afraid the TSA wouldn’t let us on the plane with the two long metal poles. Once I told them what I was doing and showed them my glass pieces, they let me go right through the screening. Everything made it on the plane and home safely!
I don’t think I could have asked for a better time in Mazeppa. There were three of us, an all-girl class, and we got to learn so much. Anne is so nice and knowledgable about this trade I am so grateful to have the honor to learn from her. I look forward to gilding in the future and seeing what projects are next!!
Check out Anne Mcdonald and his amazing work for yourself. If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with her, I highly recommend it.
Read about the two other workshops I took with Mike Meyer and Noel B. Weber.