I use traditional materials and techniques that have not changed much since the Middle Ages but apply them in new and non-traditional ways. I am interested in texture and color. I make my own gesso from finely ground chalk and rabbit skin glue. I apply 5-7 layers to the panel and then prepare the surface by sanding with successively fine sandpaper, beginning with 120 grit and ending with 400 to 600 grit. I then sketch the final design directly on the panel and build it up with multiple layers of thickened gesso.
The colored undercoats (bole), a blend of clays and rabbit skin glue, are also a traditional material that I make use of in non-traditional ways. Several layers of bole are applied over the gesso and provide the burnishable surface essential to water gilding. I blend and combine the variously colored boles to create layered effects. Selectively distressing and rubbing through the leaf brings up these colors in the final piece.
The final layer is the gold. The leaf itself provides yet another range of colors and characteristics, depending upon karat. I may use one type of leaf in a piece or combine various karats or metals to create an array of effects. I work with gold ranging from 12k to 24k and also include silver and palladium in my palette of precious metal leafs.
A water gilded surface is matte until it is burnished. I selectively burnish the final work, producing a glossy finish in those areas and thus taking advantage of the play of light that is unique to water gilding; highlighting some areas and leaving others with the soft luster of the unburnished gilt finish.