The two Willow Springs formulas are adapted from traditional gesso formulas dating back to Renaissance Europe, using all the same components save one - titanium dioxide safely and sanely substitutes for lead oxide. Willow Springs Gesso & 8-3-1-1-1 Gesso are raised gesso bases that are as easy to use as gouache and watercolor. As an illuminator living in Southern California, Mel Ahlborn developed the Willow Springs formula to work reliably in arid climates. The Traditional 8-3-1-1-1 Gesso, for gilders in normal-humid climates, is also available. Both types of gesso are sold in buttons and jars, and always you are assured of the finest care taken in gesso preparation. Gesso jars are labelled with batch information, so that Willow Springs customers may request uniform batch numbers when ordering for extensive gilding projects. Every effort is made to keep both prepared gessos in stock.
Many WIlow Springs customers grind their own gesso, purchasing Slaked Plaster (Gesso Sottile) and Titanium Dioxide in sizes convenient to their needs. Here you will find Gesso Sottile that has been slaked for more than 30 days, carefully dried while protected from airborne contamination. Also available and highly recommended is pure Titanium Dioxide (TiO2), offering a safe and sane substitute for Lead Oxide. While experts agree that Lead Oxide seems to provide the highest burnish around, we at Willow Springs find the titanium-based gesso to perform beautifully and burnish to a glorious shine.
Occassionally you may wish to polish your burnisher tips; it is essential to use methods and materials that enhance the life of your tools. The Willow Springs Burnisher Polishing Cloths are carefully researched, designed for you to polish your burnishers without ever touching the cloths with your fingers. These cloths are a worthy and frugal investment. Also offered is a quadra-lined quilted bag to store and transport your haemetite burnisher. When Mel Alhborn is not using her haemetite burnisher, she keeps it in one of these forest green bags.
Favorite among some Willow Springs customers are the tiny Gesso Pots, porcelein with matching lids, for storing your gesso. Also available are supplies of crystal parchment (glassine) and mylar for burnishing. Commissioned Illuminated Initials and Monograms are always a gift exquisite to receive and wonderful to give. Please allow 6 - 12 weeks for commissioned orders. Mrs. Ahlborn will confirm details and dates with you by telephone.
Tip # 1 : PREPARE YOUR WORKSPACE FOR GILDING. Ensure your entire work space
is clean and grease-free prior to commencing a gilding project. Guard against
any drafts or air-currents that can disturb sheets of gold leaf and glassine.
Gather all the materials and tools you will use in advance. Clean all brushes
and pens, wiping clean with a soft, lint-free cloth. Pay particular attention
to your hands and arms, washing carefully, and drying well with clean, lint-free
towels. Check your sleeves for buttons and trim that could scratch or mar your
paper or vellum. Do not apply skin lotion until after you have finished working.
Include cover sheets in your materials' list, and plan for soft, roll-free surfaces
upon which to rest your burnishers.
Tip # 2 : PREPARE YOUR GESSO WITH CARE. Gilding well-done can only result from skills well-learned and materials well-made. Your gesso, and how you prepare it, plays an essential part of your finished work. To gild properly, gesso must be prepared from the finest ingredients, and must be bubble-free. Whether you grind your own gesso, or you purchase one of the prepared Willow Springs gessos, you will need to make an important investment of time to remove bubbles from the gesso. The de-bubbling process requires patience & persistance; properly done your time invested will repay you ten-fold with satin-smooth base that flows and gilds with ease.
November's Tips : Tip # 3 : De-Bubbling De-Mystified and Tip # 4 : When to Humidify