Framing Franklin

comments (5) July 6th, 2011 in blogs

Ed_Pirnik Ed Pirnik, Senior Web Producer
thumbs up 22 users recommend

Woodworkers are known as a fastidious bunch. We anguish over every fraction-of-an-inch, evaluate the flatness of every plane, and generally drive ourselves to near insanity as we strive to produce what is to us, the perfect piece.


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Roger and Judy Sanwald's recent ode to one of our nation's most popular founding fathers stands as perhaps the near epitome of this notion. Whenever you take on a project so mired in detail and technical intricacy that you have to take into account your shop's air-handling system (anybody here ever experiment with gold leaf?), you have to wonder if it's all worth it. When you witness the construction process of a gilded frame they put together to house a portrait of Benjamin Franklin however, you'll most likely answer that question with a resounding "yes."

After Judy's brother and business partner commissioned a frame for their Franklin portrait to hang in, the pair were left less-than-impressed. Enter Roger and Judy, who together, crafted a piece based strictly on approved preservation techniques. And when you find out just how long it took to produce this frame, you can't help but wonder how much longer it would have taken some 200 years ago, without the benefit of modern shapers, routers, and tablesaws!

posted in: blogs, period furniture, gilded frame, benjamin franklin

Comments (5)

KStrick KStrick writes: What was your source for the compo and how did you buy it? I know you can buy premade decoration but it seems you started from scratch. Why didn't you burnish the gold? That is what gives water gilding its' beauty. I speak as someone with knowledge but no experience with the process. I have done oil gilding and metal leaf so I do understand the process.
Posted: 5:08 pm on July 9th

BAR BAR writes: I built a cross for a retrete house 10 years ago, and the gold leafing was as hard to apply as any of the carvings that were done. My experience on both were 1st time and very limited. I found out very quickly that when applying gold leaf, you need a mask on your face to prevent any air movement from your breath while working with the sheats, let alone turning off the AC system. Lots of respect for the craftsmen that do that kind of work. Thanks for the video, lots of great info contained in it.
Posted: 8:48 am on July 9th

RoboRob RoboRob writes: Nice video. I enjoyed the explanation of the making of the frame. Will have to look into the molding process. Never tried it. How do you spell the name of the material?
Posted: 6:47 am on July 9th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: Hey jminiard: A fair point. It would have been nice to have had more gold leaf photos. Fact is, we worked with the photos that were taken at the time of the frame's construction-photos graciously provided to us by Roger and Judy. And hey - did you remember to turn off your A/C the times you've tried gilding? LOL

Posted: 2:20 pm on July 8th

jminard jminard writes: You gave the gilding process short shrift. From my perspective, I can go downtown and buy a frame good enough for my needs. From the perspecive of a novice - and frustrated - gilder, it would jave been real nice to see the lady actually applying the leaf to the turnings on the frame.
Posted: 11:54 am on July 8th

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