Bole Recipe

The next recipe in the gilding cookbook, is that of 'bole'. Bole is a coloured, very refined, fine clay that is used as the immediate surface the gold sits on. It is available in a wide range of colours, and is available as a 'dry bole' and 'wet bole'. Dry bole needs to be reconstituted before use, whereas wet bole is ready to be made up. This recipe is using wet bole, as it is so much easier to do. Both types will still need to be mixed with RSG before use.

Bole is placed upon the gesso, after the gesso has been thoroughly sanded and prepared. It is usually around 4-6 coats, but this depends on the strength of the bole and personal taste. The colour helps to intensify the lustre of the gold and different colours bring different characters to the gilding. Red brings warmth to gold, yellow brings brightness and brown will mute the finish down a little. Under white gold and silver, black is traditionally used, but black also looks great under gold too, when the gold is distressed. The colours are down to you, and should be explored and experimented with.

The soft and supple nature of the bole also allows the gold to be burnished to a high shine.

For this exercise, you will need the following equipment:

To make the bole, reheat an appropriate amount of Rabbit Skin Glue (10-1) in a double boiler, ensuring, of course that it does not reach boiling point. Reduce the strength of the RSG to around 15:1 by adding 50% water to the mix. Gradually add bole to the RSG, gently stirring it into the mixture until a 'single cream' consistency is achieved.

The best method for this is to scrape a small portion of bole at a time onto the top edge of the container and, using a bristle brush, gradually take a little from the rim and mix it into the rsg in the bottom of the container. Be careful to use a different implement than the brush to collect the bole from the pot, as residues of RSG may be introduced to the bole paste container. If you find it too thin, add a little more until you are happy. Again, the strength comes down to personal preference. You can test the strength by painting some bole onto a piece of clean paper.