Guys, I have great news! It doesn't matter that I suck at water gilding because there are actually two other kinds of gilding that I can turn to. They aren't as traditional, but let me tell you - they are WAY easier. I highly recommend these other methods if you're planning on doing a gilding project of your own.
The one that I actually tried out this week was oil gilding. Oil gilding has to be done on a non-porous surface. Bole is very porous, but people still use it when oil gilding for it's color. So in order to make the bole less absorbent, a few layers of shellac must be added to the surface.
Can we just take a moment to observe the wonders of shellac? I have no idea why it does this, but isn't that fun?
It is important for the shellac to be as smooth as possible because the gold won't be as shiny if it isn't perfectly smooth. After there's enough shellac on the surface that it looks shiny like this, a thin layer of gold size varnish is painted on. Gold size basically just makes the surface sticky enough for the gold to adhere.
Like water gilding, the gold is picked up and placed onto the tacky area with a squirrel tail brush. To make sure the gold is fully stuck to the shellac, you pat it down with cotton, and then smooth it out with the cotton to get it to shine instead of burnishing. Supposedly this method will not allow the gold to shine as much as the water gilding method, but honestly I think it's close enough, considering that for me, this process is way harder to mess up.
The other method of gilding uses shell gold, which is basically just gold paint. I think Nina may have me try using that on my master copy as well, just to get a feel for it, so I may explain it more in detail.
I'm so sorry that this is the THIRD article I have on gilding. Hopefully I'll be moving on soon??