A friend contacted me recently to make a couple of custom, curved top, gilded picture frames for one of his clients. Sure, no big deal .... We make curved stuff all the time. Well, we did get them done and they came out great, but the effort was a bit more than I bargained for. Making the curved and straight moldings on the CNC and joining them into a frame shape was no problem, but finishing the frames to prepare them for the gilding, welllllll, I had no idea. We did a couple of samples and the gold leaf on the wood shows EVERYTHING!. To get them to look right, all the wood and each mitered joint was stained, sanded, gessoed, sanded, painted, sanded, sealed, polished, sized, gilded, burnished, distressed, top coated and delivered to the frame shop. No wonder the people who do custom gilded frames for a living have to charge so much. I'm sure you get better at it and we certainly picked up a few tips for the next time, but there is just no escaping the amount of perfection necessary to make a gold leafed wooden frame look good.
First step stain, then sand aggressively to show the defects
This shows the corner gold leafed, but before burnishing. The wrinkles and hanging flakes are part of the application process and need to be smoothed out.
The completed small frame with the cardboard template in it.
The corner after burnishing
The big frame ... 66 wide by 48" tall