Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Gilding and major surgery on the Gallopers horses

Gilding is a costly business
Whilst the principle aim of today was to make a start on photographing the collection, it also happened to be the day that Yvette was in. Yvette is a volunteer whose particular skill is applying the gold leaf to the horses on the Gallopers.

Yes, they contain real gold.


A gilder's tools
Firstly Yvette showed me the tools that are used in the gilding process: a gilder's cushion, gilder's knife and tip. The horses at Bressingham are gilded with 23.5 carat deep leaf gold. This costs around £13 for a book, and typically three books are required for each horse. This will vary depending on the style of horse: for instance the Anderson horses tend to have very deep, ornate manes and therefore require more gold leaf. Also additional items such as buckles are often gilded, but not every horse has these.

Applying the gold leaf
Size (a glue) is applied to the area to be gilded first and left to become tacky. The leaf is then applied in small pieces on the end of a brush, and gently brushed so that it sticks evenly to the size. It is crucial to get the right tack otherwise you end up with a poor shine. Once done, three coats of clear lacquer are applied to finish.

It's fascinating to watch a piece of gold leaf when dropped as it floats down and moves about in the slightest air current. At typically 0.3 micron thickness (3,000 sheets would only be about 1mm thick) it is extremely delicate.

This horse will replace Black Star as it's considered unlucky not to have a black horse on the ride.

Gag board
Have you ever wondered how the colours on the horses are decided upon? Apparently it is quite common in the fairground world to have your colour palette on the back of a gag board. These boards are part of the ride and usually say something like Scream to go faster. Sort of a fairground humour I suppose.

In memorium

Giving Stanley a hug
Yvette told me that the newest horse on the Gallopers, Stanley, is named after Stanley Gipson a volunteer who helped with the carpentry. Sadly Stanley passed away earlier this year.

The following weekend I told little one about Stanley and he just had to give him a hug.

Major surgery

Brian the miracle worker
This poor horse, Flax, was swapped out with Stanley a few days ago. It's in a very sorry state, and needs extensive repairs.

Last restored back in 1991, the rainwater has taken its toll and there is a large amount of rotten wood all of which will need cutting out and replacing. In fact about the only thing holding this horse together is a large selection of metal brackets, rods and screws.

An assortment of metal was holding this horse together

All being well, Flax will be finished and back on the Gallopers for the end of the season, although not as Flax this time. Once the new name has been decided I'll no doubt have a few more photographs to accompany it.

1 comment:

  1. Why would they change a name? You don't rename a boat when you restore it (considered back luck) - poor Flax ...


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