Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gilding A Trophy...MEGAPHONE!

The finished project in my hotel room.

Two days before leaving on the fall tour, I received a telephone call asking me if I could gild a battery powered megaphone using karat gold leaf that would then be presented to someone as a trophy during a dedication ceremony for a big project. I agreed to do the job and mentioned to the caller that I was about to go out on tour for six weeks, but that I could do it between art shows in my hotel room. We agreed and the caller ordered the megaphone and had it sent to the hotel to arrive the day we would.

When we arrived the hotel in Orlando, Florida that next Wednesday, the megaphone was sitting behind the front desk just as we had planned it. Upon opening and inspecting it in the room, I ordered the gold leaf (Manetti 22K Deep Gold) for arrival Monday, which would be the day after our first weekend art show on our tour. I would be set to begin gilding on Tuesday.

Everything worked out well with the job despite the higher pressure of doing it away from my studio in Wyoming. It presented a bit of a stressful situation for me, but I got the job done and back into the hands of the presenters on Saturday, October 18. And thanks to the US Postal Service Priority EXPRESS MAIL service, the 19x13x12 inch package weighing 7 lbs. only cost $48 to ship to them overnight and It arrived to my customer in less than 24 hours. Other courier services wouldn't have delivered it on Saturday without charging extra fees, plus the initial cost would have been much higher; close to $150.

I first disassembled the handle and trigger mechanism from the body of the megaphone and gilded them separately. Then I gilded the inside of the horn which turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. While doing so I realized that I really needed to disassemble the entire unit, something I resisted doing in the beginning since I didn't know about the construction of it or about the electronics inside. Would i be able to reassemble the unit without a hitch? But hard to reach areas deep down inside the horn as well as ridges molded into the plastic made the gilding impossible to accomplish without taking it apart. And then it became evident that I would need to re-gild (double gild) the inside as well, which meant I had misjudged the amount of gold needed to complete the entire project. So I ordered another book of gold from two different sources, both of which arrived the next Tuesday. I finished the gilding by Wednesday and sealed the outside only with shellac on Friday morning and detailed minor blemishes that arose during the finishing.

The post office at Lake Mary, Florida (north Orlando) would accept the package until 4:45 p.m. and still get it to its destination by 3:00 the next day, Saturday, October 18. And it did. Thanks a million, USPS. WOOHOO!

Here are some photos showing details and the various stages of gilding.

One problem area with this unit for gilding is the rubber gasket between two parts, shown here at the end of my gilder's knife. The gasket shows and therefore needed to be gold. In my studio, I would have cut a 4-ply mat board which is the same thickness as the gasket, and gilded that instead. But I'm delighted that I didn't have to do this since it would have meant even further disassembly of the unit. The gilded part below my knife was very difficult to reach with the horn attached.

The inside of the horn after double gilding and then reassembling it to the electronics housing and the battery cover. Also showing is the disassembled handle and trigger. This unit is very well designed and made and I would say should have won design awards if it in fact hadn't.

The reassembled horn. The rubber gasket can be seen between the blue and the gold. The gold dial at left is the volume control.

There are several other problem areas for gilding this unit, and those are stainless steel screws and switch lever and a heavy duty sticker next to the switch lever. The gilded rubber gasket is show here as well, and I had to detail it even more during the shellac sealing process.

This view shows the voice piece screen at right which is also part of the battery housing cover.