Gilding is any decorative technique for applying a very thin coating of gold to solid surfaces such as metal (most common), wood, porcelain, or stone. A gilded object is also described as "gilt". Where metal is gilded, it was traditionally silver in the West, to make silver-gilt (or vermeil) objects, but gilt-bronze is commonly used in China, and also called ormolu if it is Western. Methods of gilding include hand application and gluing, typically of gold leaf, chemical gilding, and electroplating, the last also called gold plating.[1] Parcel-gilt (partial gilt) objects are only gilded over part of their surfaces. This may mean that all of the inside, and none of the outside, of a chalice or similar vessel is gilded, or that patterns or images are made up by using a combination of gilt and ungilted areas.

Gilding gives an object a gold appearance at a fraction of the cost of creating a solid gold object. In addition, a solid gold piece would often be too soft or too heavy for practical use. A gilt surface also does not tarnish as silver does.

Gilded frame being burnished with agate tool
Gilded frame ready for burnishing with agate stone tool
Application of gold leaf to a reproduction of a 15th-century panel painting

Origins and spread

Vajrasattva Tibet
A gilded Tibetan Vajrasattva

Herodotus mentions that the Egyptians gilded wood and metals, and many such objects have been excavated. Certain Ancient Greek statues of great prestige were chryselephantine, i.e., made of gold (for the clothing) and ivory (for the flesh); these however, were constructed with sheets of gold over a timber framework, not gilded. Extensive ornamental gilding was also used in the ceiling coffers of the Propylaea. Pliny the Elder informs us that the first gilding seen at Rome was after the destruction of Carthage, under the censorship of Lucius Mummius, when the Romans began to gild the ceilings of their temples and palaces, the Capitol being the first place on which this process was used. But he adds that luxury advanced on them so rapidly that in very little time you might see all, even private and poor people, gild the walls, vaults, and other parts of their dwellings. Owing to the comparative thickness of the gold leaf used in ancient gilding, the traces of it that remain are remarkably brilliant and solid. Fire-gilding of metal goes back at least to the 4th century BC, and was known to Pliny (33,20,64–5), Vitruvius (8,8,4) and in the Early Mediaeval period to Theophilus (De Diversis Artibus Book III).

In Europe, silver-gilt has always been more common than gilt-bronze, but in China the opposite has been the case. The ancient Chinese also developed the gilding of porcelain, which was later taken up by the French and other European potters.


Modern gilding is applied to numerous and diverse surfaces and by various processes; those used in modern technology are described in gold plating. More traditional techniques still form an important part of framemaking and are sometimes still employed in general woodworking, cabinet-work, decorative painting and interior decoration, bookbinding, and ornamental leather work, and in the decoration of pottery, porcelain, and glass.

Mechanical gilding

Gilding Rock Cen Prometheus jeh
Regilding the statue Prometheus
Old book with gilded page edges
Gilded page edges on a book.

Mechanical gilding includes all the operations in which gold leaf is prepared, and the processes to mechanically attach the gold onto surfaces. The techniques include burnishing, water gilding and oil-gilding used by wood carvers and gilders; and the gilding operations of the house decorator, sign painter, bookbinder, the paper stainer and several others.

"Overlaying" or folding or hammering on gold foil or gold leaf is the simplest and most ancient method, and is mentioned in Homer's Odyssey (Bk vi, 232)[2] and the Old Testament. The Ram in a Thicket of about 2600–2400 BCE from Ur uses this technique on wood, with a thin layer of bitumen underneath to help adhesion.

The next advances involved two simple processes. The first involves gold leaf, which is gold that is hammered or cut into very thin sheets. Gold leaf is often thinner than standard paper today, and when held to the light is semi-transparent. In ancient times it was typically about ten times thicker than today, and perhaps half that in the Middle Ages.

If gilding on canvas or on wood, the surface was often first coated with gesso. "Gesso" is a substance made of finely ground gypsum or chalk mixed with glue. Once the coating of gesso had been applied, allowed to dry, and smoothed, it was re-wet with a sizing made of rabbit-skin glue and water ("water gilding", which allows the surface to be subsequently burnished to a mirror-like finish) or boiled linseed oil mixed with litharge ("oil gilding", which does not) and the gold leaf was layered on using a gilder's tip and left to dry before being burnished with a piece of polished agate. Those gilding on canvas and parchment also sometimes employed stiffly-beaten egg whites ("glair"), gum, and/or Armenian bole as sizing, though egg whites and gum both become brittle over time, causing the gold leaf to crack and detach, and so honey was sometimes added to make them more flexible.

Other gilding processes involved using the gold as pigment in paint: the artist ground the gold into a fine powder and mixed it with a binder such as gum arabic. The resulting gold paint, called shell gold, was applied in the same way as with any paint. Sometimes, after either gold-leafing or gold-painting, the artist would heat the piece enough to melt the gold slightly, ensuring an even coat. These techniques remained the only alternatives for materials like wood, leather, the vellum pages of illuminated manuscripts, and gilt-edged stock.

Chemical gilding

Johann Jacob Kirstein 001
Silver gilt toilette set by Johann Jacob Kirstein (1733–1816) in the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Strasbourg

Chemical gilding embraces those processes in which the gold is at some stage of chemical combination. These include:

Cold gilding

In this process the gold is obtained in a state of extremely fine division, and applied by mechanical means. Cold gilding on silver is performed by a solution of gold in aqua regia, applied by dipping a linen rag into the solution, burning it, and rubbing the black and heavy ashes on the silver with the finger or a piece of leather or cork.

Wet gilding

Wet gilding is effected by means of a dilute solution of gold(III) chloride in aqua regia with twice its quantity of ether. The liquids are agitated and allowed to rest, to allow the ether to separate and float on the surface of the acid. The whole mixture is then poured into a separating funnel with a small aperture, and allowed to rest for some time, when the acid is run off from below and the gold dissolved in ether separated. The ether will be found to have taken up all the gold from the acid, and may be used for gilding iron or steel, for which purpose the metal is polished with fine emery and spirits of wine. The ether is then applied with a small brush, and as it evaporates it deposits the gold, which can now be heated and polished. For small delicate figures, a pen or a fine brush may be used for laying on the ether solution. The gold(III) chloride can also be dissolved in water in electroless plating wherein the gold is slowly reduced out of solution onto the surface to be gilded. When this technique is used on the second surface of glass and backed with silver, it is known as "Angel gilding".


Fire-gilding or Wash-gilding is a process by which an amalgam of gold is applied to metallic surfaces, the mercury being subsequently volatilized, leaving a film of gold or an amalgam containing 13 to 16% mercury. In the preparation of the amalgam, the gold must first be reduced to thin plates or grains, which are heated red-hot, and thrown into previously heated mercury, until it begins to smoke. When the mixture is stirred with an iron rod, the gold is totally absorbed. The proportion of mercury to gold is generally six or eight to one. When the amalgam is cold, it is squeezed through chamois leather to separate the superfluous mercury; the gold, with about twice its weight of mercury, remains behind, forming a yellowish silvery mass with the consistency of butter.

When the metal to be gilded is wrought or chased, it ought to be covered with mercury before the amalgam is applied, that this may be more easily spread; but when the surface of the metal is plain, the amalgam may be applied to it directly. When no such preparation is applied, the surface to be gilded is simply bitten and cleaned with nitric acid. A deposit of mercury is obtained on a metallic surface by means of quicksilver water, a solution of mercury(II) nitrate, the nitric acid attacking the metal to which it is applied, and thus leaving a film of free metallic mercury.

The amalgam being equally spread over the prepared surface of the metal, the mercury is then sublimed by a heat just sufficient for that purpose; for, if it is too great, part of the gold may be driven off, or it may run together and leave some of the surface of the metal bare. When the mercury has evaporated, which is known by the surface having entirely become of a dull yellow color, the metal must undergo other operations, by which the fine gold color is given to it. First, the gilded surface is rubbed with a scratch brush of brass wire, until its surface is smooth.

It is then covered with gilding wax, and again exposed to fire until the wax is burnt off. Gilding wax is composed of beeswax mixed with some of the following substances: red ochre, verdigris, copper scales, alum, vitriol, and borax. By this operation the color of the gilding is heightened, and the effect seems to be produced by a perfect dissipation of some mercury remaining after the former operation. The gilt surface is then covered over with potassium nitrate, alum or other salts, ground together, and mixed into a paste with water or weak ammonia. The piece of metal thus covered is exposed to heat, and then quenched in water.

By this method, its color is further improved and brought nearer to that of gold, probably by removing any particles of copper that may have been on the gilt surface. This process, when skillfully carried out, produces gilding of great solidity and beauty, but owing to the exposure of the workmen to mercurial fumes, it is very unhealthy. There is also much loss of mercury to the atmosphere, which brings extremely serious environmental concerns as well.

This method of gilding metallic objects was formerly widespread, but fell into disuse as the dangers of mercury toxicity became known. Since fire-gilding requires that the mercury be volatilized to drive off the mercury and leave the gold behind on the surface, it is extremely dangerous. Breathing the fumes generated by this process can quickly result in serious health problems, such as neurological damage and endocrine disorders, since inhalation is a very efficient route for mercuric compounds to enter the body. This process has generally been supplanted by the electroplating of gold over a nickel substrate, which is more economical and less dangerous.

Depletion gilding

In depletion gilding, a subtractive process discovered in Pre-columbian Mesoamerica, articles are fabricated by various techniques from an alloy of copper and gold, named tumbaga by the Spaniards. The surface is etched with acids, resulting in a surface of porous gold. The porous surface is then burnished down, resulting in a shiny gold surface. The results fooled the conquistadors into thinking they had massive quantities of pure gold. The results startled modern archaeologists, because at first the pieces resemble electroplated articles. Keum-boo is a special Korean technique of silver-gilding, using depletion gilding.


Korean - Buddha - Walters 61277
Buddha, 16th Century, gilt on wood.[3] The Walters Art Museum.

The gilding of decorative ceramics has been undertaken for centuries, with the permanence and brightness of gold appealing to designers. Both porcelain and earthenware are commonly decorated with gold, and in the late 1970s it was reported that 5 tonnes of gold were used annually for the decoration of these products.[4] Some wall tiles also have gold decoration.[5][6] Application techniques include spraying, brushing, banding machines, and direct or indirect screen-printing.[7] After application the decorated ware is fired in a kiln to fuse the gold to the glaze and hence ensure its permanence. The most important factors affecting coating quality are the composition of applied gold, the state of the surface before application, the thickness of the layer and the firing conditions.[8]

A number of different forms and compositions are available to apply gold to ceramic, and these include:[9][10]

  • Acid-etched gilding – developed in 1860s at Mintons, Stoke-on-Trent, and patented in 1863. The glazed surface, usually a narrow border, is transfer printed with a wax-like resist, after which the glaze is etched with dilute hydrofluoric acid prior to application of the gold, after which the design's raised elements are selectively burnished to give a bright and matte surface; the process demands great skill and is used for the decoration only of ware of the highest class.[11]
  • Bright Gold or Liquid Gold is a solution of gold sulphoresinate together with other metal resinates and a bismuth-based flux. It is particularly bright when drawn from the decorating kiln and so needs little further processing. This form of gilding was invented or at least improved by Heinrich Roessler. Rhodium compounds are used to improve the binding to the substrate.
  • Burnish Gold or Best Gold is applied to the ware as a suspension of gold powder in essential oils mixed with lead borosilicate or a bismuth-based flux. This type of gold decoration is dull as taken from the kiln and requires burnishing, usually with agate, to bring out the colour. As the name suggests it is considered the highest quality of gold decoration. One solvent-free burnish gold composition was reported to consist of 10 to 40% gold powder, 2 to 20% polyvinylpyrrolidone, 3 to 30% an aqueous acrylate resin and 5 to 50% water.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Sloan, Annie (1996) Decorative Gilding, Collins & Brown, ISBN 978-0-89577-879-6
  2. ^ "And as when a man overlays silver with gold, a cunning workman whom Hephaestus and Pallas Athena have taught all manner of craft, and full of grace is the work he produces, even so the goddess shed grace upon his head and shoulders" from this translation
  3. ^ "Buddha". The Walters Art Museum.
  4. ^ Hunt, L. B. (1979). "Gold in the pottery industry". Gold Bulletin. 12 (3): 116. doi:10.1007/BF03215112.
  5. ^ Etris, S.F. (1982). "Gold And Lustres For The Ceramic Tile Industry". Ceramic Industries. 119 (5): 36.
  6. ^ Abt, K. (2008). "Comeback Of Gold Decoration? Trends And New Materials For Tile Decoration". Keram. Z. 60 (1).
  7. ^ Groh, E. (1995). "Precious Metal Preparations: Composition, Applications And Special Decorative Effects". Ceramic Forum International. 72 (3).
  8. ^ Gerasimova, L. V.; Ivanova, V. M.; Peskova, E. Yu.; Druzhinin, E. V. (1991). "Improving gold decorating techniques". Glass and Ceramics. 48 (11): 535. doi:10.1007/BF00676649.
  9. ^ Dodd, A.and Murfin, D. (1994) Dictionary Of Ceramics. The Institute Of Minerals.
  10. ^ Rovinskaya, N. V.; Lapitskaya, E. V. (1998). "Liquid gold and other components used in decoration of glazed porcelain and glass articles". Glass and Ceramics. 55 (3–4): 98. doi:10.1007/BF03180905.
  11. ^ Helena Hayward (ed.) (1960) The Connoisseur’s Handbook of Antique Collecting. Galahad Books, NY.
  12. ^ "Burnish Gold Decorating Composition." UK Pat.Appl.GB2216536 A, for Heraeus W.C., Gmbh.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gilding" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 13–14.

Further reading

  • Carboni, Stefano; Whitehouse, David (2001). Glass of the sultans. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0870999869.
  • Shretha, Sukra Sagar. "Gold Gilding (A Traditional Craft in Kathmandu Valley)." Ancient Nepal – Journal of the Department of Archeology, Number 128–129, February–May 1992, pp. 5–9. [A detailed account of the complex traditional techniques of fire-gilding in Nepal.]

External links

Andrew Gilding

Andrew Gilding (born 7 December 1970) is an English darts player currently playing in Professional Darts Corporation events.

Angel gilding

Angel gilding is gilding glass or gold plating by electroless chemical deposition.

Gold chloride is dissolved in water, mixed with other chemicals and poured on clean glass that has been treated with stannous chloride. The gold layer is delicate and usually translucent. To make an opaque, affordable and adherent mirror, a layer of silver is deposited over the gold. Glass gilders use the term 'angel gilding' to distinguish the chemical process from gold leaf gilding also known as verre églomisé.

Conservation and restoration of painting frames

The conservation and restoration of painting frames is the process through which picture frames are preserved. Frame conservation and restoration includes general cleaning of the frame, as well as in depth processes such as replacing damaged ornamentation, gilding, and toning.

The purpose of painting frames is two-fold. Frames function to protect and support the artwork as well as to visually enhance the item. Painting frames help us to appreciate and understand its role as it relates to the history of the painting. Original frames are often considered museum objects in their own right. As such, frames are subject to wear and tear in their functional roles as a protective component of the art. Regular activities that require the handling of artwork and their frames, such as exhibition, storage, travel, leave the frame susceptible to damage.

Depletion gilding

Depletion gilding is a method for producing a layer of nearly pure gold on an object made of gold alloy by removing the other metals from its surface. It is sometimes referred to as a "surface enrichment" process.

Diana Fountain, Green Park

The Diana Fountain, also known as Diana of the Treetops, is a fountain and statue of Diana by Jim Clack that stands in Green Park. The park and statue are located within the boundaries of the City of Westminster in central London.

The statue was a gift of the Constance Fund, a trust fund set up in accordance with the wishes of the artist Sigismund Goetze to commission sculpture for London's parks. The Constance Fund agreed to fund the statue in June 1950, and a design competition was organised. In October 1951 it was announced that Clack, a teacher at Blundell's School in Devon, had won. The statue was accepted and unveiled by Sir David Eccles, the Minister of Works, on 30 June 1954 (although other sources suggest 1952).

From its unveiling until 2011, the statue stood in the centre of the park, on the site of an earlier fountain by Sydney Smirke that was deemed beyond repair. In 2011, Clack's statue was removed from that site, and placed to form the centrepiece of a new entrance that gives direct access to the park from Green Park Underground station. At the same time some gilding was added.

Frame conservation

Frame conservation is the preservation of picture frames. This involves replicating missing decorative elements, cleaning, gilding, and toning frame surfaces.


Gesso (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛsso]; "chalk", from the Latin: gypsum, from Greek: γύψος) is a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these. It is used in artwork as a preparation for any number of substrates such as wood panels, canvas and sculpture as a base for paint and other materials that are applied over it.

Gilding metal

Gilding metal is a copper alloy, a brass, comprising 95% copper and 5% zinc. British Army Dress Regulations define gilding metal as “8 parts copper to 1 of zinc” (11% zinc).Gilding metal is used for various purposes, including the jackets of bullets, driving bands on some artillery shells, as well as enameled badges and other jewellery. The sheet is widely used for craft metalworking by hammer working. It is also used particularly as a lower-cost training material for silversmiths.

Gilding metal may be annealed by heating to between 800–1,450 °F (427–788 °C). It should be cooled slowly afterwards, to reduce risk of cracking.

Gold leaf

Gold leaf is gold that has been hammered into thin sheets by goldbeating and is often used for gilding. Gold leaf is available in a wide variety of karats and shades. The most commonly used gold is 22-karat yellow gold.

Gold leaf is a type of metal leaf, but the term is rarely used when referring to gold leaf. The term metal leaf is normally used for thin sheets of metal of any color that do not contain any real gold. Pure gold is 24 karats. Real, yellow gold leaf is approximately 91.7% pure gold. Silver-colored white gold is about 50% pure gold.

Layering gold leaf over a surface is called gold leafing or gilding. Traditional water gilding is the most difficult and highly regarded form of gold leafing. It has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years and is still done by hand.

Golden Temple, Sripuram

The golden temple complex inside the Sripuram spiritual park is situated at the foot of a small range of green hills at Thirumalaikodi (or simply Malaikodi) village, 8 km from Vellore in Tamil Nadu, India. It is 120 km from Tirupati, 145 km from Chennai, 160 km from Puducherry and 200 km from Bengaluru. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam or consecration of the temple and its chief deity, Sri Lakshmi Narayani or Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, was held on 24 August 2007, and devotees from all religions and backgrounds are welcome to visit. This temple is gilded with 1500 kg of pure gold, double the 750 kg gilding of the dome of the Golden Temple at Amritsar.

Illuminated manuscript

An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations. In the strictest definition, the term refers only to manuscripts decorated with either gold or silver; but in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term refers to any decorated or illustrated manuscript from Western traditions. Comparable Far Eastern and Mesoamerican works are described as painted. Islamic manuscripts may be referred to as illuminated, illustrated or painted, though using essentially the same techniques as Western works.

The earliest extant substantive illuminated manuscripts are from the period 400 to 600, produced in the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire. Their significance lies not only in their inherent artistic and historical value, but also in the maintenance of a link of literacy offered by non-illuminated texts. Had it not been for the monastic scribes of Late Antiquity, most literature of Greece and Rome would have perished. As it was, the patterns of textual survivals were shaped by their usefulness to the severely constricted literate group of Christians. Illumination of manuscripts, as a way of aggrandizing ancient documents, aided their preservation and informative value in an era when new ruling classes were no longer literate, at least in the language used in the manuscripts.

The majority of extant manuscripts are from the Middle Ages, although many survive from the Renaissance, along with a very limited number from Late Antiquity. The majority are of a religious nature. Especially from the 13th century onward, an increasing number of secular texts were illuminated. Most illuminated manuscripts were created as codices, which had superseded scrolls. A very few illuminated fragments survive on papyrus, which does not last nearly as long as vellum or parchment. Most medieval manuscripts, illuminated or not, were written on parchment (most commonly of calf, sheep, or goat skin), but most manuscripts important enough to illuminate were written on the best quality of parchment, called vellum.

Beginning in the Late Middle Ages, manuscripts began to be produced on paper. Very early printed books were sometimes produced with spaces left for rubrics and miniatures, or were given illuminated initials, or decorations in the margin, but the introduction of printing rapidly led to the decline of illumination. Illuminated manuscripts continued to be produced in the early 16th century but in much smaller numbers, mostly for the very wealthy. They are among the most common items to survive from the Middle Ages; many thousands survive. They are also the best surviving specimens of medieval painting, and the best preserved. Indeed, for many areas and time periods, they are the only surviving examples of painting.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil or flax oil, is a colourless to yellowish oil obtained from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). The oil is obtained by pressing, sometimes followed by solvent extraction. Linseed oil is a drying oil, meaning it can polymerize into a solid form. Owing to its polymer-forming properties, linseed oil can be used on its own or blended with combinations of other oils, resins or solvents as an impregnator, drying oil finish or varnish in wood finishing, as a pigment binder in oil paints, as a plasticizer and hardener in putty, and in the manufacture of linoleum. Linseed oil use has declined over the past several decades with increased availability of synthetic alkyd resins—which function similarly but resist yellowing.Linseed oil is an edible oil in demand as a nutritional supplement, as a source of α-Linolenic acid, (an omega-3 fatty acid). In parts of Europe, it is traditionally eaten with potatoes and quark. It is regarded as a delicacy due to its hearty taste, that enhances the flavour of quark, which is otherwise bland.

Mercury silvering

Mercury silvering or fire gilding is a silvering technique for applying a thin layer of precious metal such as silver or gold (mercury gilding) to a base metal object. The process was invented during the Middle Ages and is documented in Vannoccio Biringuccio's 1540 book De la pirotechnia. An amalgam of mercury and the precious metal is prepared and applied to the object which is then heated, sometimes in oil, vaporizing most of the mercury. The technique is dangerous since mercury is highly toxic, especially in its vapor phase. Mercury silvering can be detected through a variety of methods.

The technique was also used in Asia, for example tokin plating in Edo-period Japan.

Morocco leather

Morocco leather (also known as Levant, the French Maroquin, or German Saffian from Safi, a Moroccan town famous for leather) is a soft, pliable form of leather widely used for gloves and the uppers of ladies' shoes and men's low cut shoes, but traditionally associated with bookbindings, wallets, linings for fine luggage, and the like.

Originally Morocco leather was imported to Europe from Morocco, and from the late 16th century it was valued in luxury bookbindings in Western countries because of its strength and because it showed off the gilding. It was also used in the Islamic world from an earlier date.

The finest grades of Morocco leather are goatskin, but by the late 19th century other skins often were substituted in practice, particularly sheepskin and split calfskin. For example, French Morocco is a variety made of sheepskin. The tanning process varied widely, but the traditional tanning material was sumac. The traditional tanning process was skilled and elaborate; according to the application, the preparation either would aim for a carefully smoothed finish, or would bring up the grain in various patterns such as straight-grained, pebble-grained, or in particular, in a bird's-eye pattern. Morocco leather is practically always dyed, traditionally most often red or black, but green, brown or other colors also were available, and in modern times there is no special constraint on color.


Ormolu (from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an English term, used since the 18th century for the gilding technique of applying finely ground, high-carat gold–mercury amalgam to an object of bronze, and for objects finished in this way.

The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold coating. The French refer to this technique as "bronze doré"; in English, it is known as "gilt bronze".

Scenic painting (theatre)

Theatrical scenic painting includes wide-ranging disciplines, encompassing virtually the entire scope of painting and craft techniques. An experienced scenic painter (or scenic artist) will have skills in landscape painting, figurative painting, trompe l'oeil, and faux finishing, and be versatile in different media such as acrylic, oil, and tempera paint. The painter might also be accomplished in three-dimensional skills such as sculpting, plasterering and gilding.

The scenic painter takes direction from the theatre designer. In some cases designers paint their own designs.

The techniques and specialized knowledge of the scenic painter replicate an image to a larger scale from a designer's maquette, perhaps with accompanying photographs, printouts and original research, and sometimes with paint and style samples.


Silver-gilt or gilded/gilt silver, sometimes known in American English by the French term vermeil, is silver (either pure or sterling) which has been gilded with gold. Most large objects made in goldsmithing that appear to be gold are actually silver-gilt; for example most sporting trophies (including medals such as the gold medals awarded in all Olympic Games after 1912) and many crown jewels are silver-gilt objects. Apart from the raw materials being much less expensive to acquire than solid gold of any karat, large silver-gilt objects are also noticeably lighter if lifted, as well as more durable (gold is much heavier than even lead and is easily scratched and bent). For objects that have intricate detail like monstrances, gilding greatly reduces the need for cleaning and polishing, and so reduces the risk of damage. Ungilded silver would suffer oxidation and need frequent polishing; gold does not oxidize at all. The "gold" threads used in embroidered goldwork are normally also silver-gilt.


Sizing or size is any one of numerous substances that is applied to, or incorporated into, other materials—especially papers and textiles—to act as a protective filler or glaze. Sizing is used in papermaking and textile manufacturing to change the absorption and wear characteristics of those materials.

Sizing is used for oil-based surface preparation for gilding (sometimes called mordant in this context). It is used by painters and artists to prepare paper and textile surfaces for some art techniques.

West Slope Ware

The modern term West Slope pottery describes a type of Greek fine pottery from the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods.

West Slope pottery was especially widespread in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The name was coined in 1901 by Carl Watzinger, based on finds from the western slope of the Acropolis at Athens. West Slope pottery is a subtype of Black-glazed Ware. It was additionally decorated with white, yellow and pink clay slip, incisions, vertical ribbing and imprinted roulette decoration. The type developed during the 4th century BC out of a pottery style with applied yellowish-orange plastic ornaments that imitated gilding.

West Slope pottery is especially well-known from Athens, but several other production centres have been identified. Especially Pergamon is noteworthy in this regard. Since Athens had lost its dominant role in the Mediterranean pottery markets by this time, it should not be assumed that the form is a particularly Attic one, but rather that Athens adopted and went along with a generally prevailing trend in pottery production. The most common vessels shapes included pyxis, krater, hydria, amphora, pelike, jug, krateriskos, kantharos, chalice cup, kylix and lebes.

Similar styles developed in the West Mediterranean. For example, the polychrome Gnathia style is closely related. West Slope pottery underwent several stages of development until it went out of production in the second half of the 2nd century BC.

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