Two fortunate trainees, Ellen Wood and Tony Hassett, learned the traditional craft skills of gilding on the Cutty Sark ship in Greenwich on 6th and 7th August.

Master craftswoman Rachael Linton demonstrated the skills and explained the processes and techniques. Tony and Ellen were able to gild individual letters and some of the ‘Gingerbread’ of the Cutty Sark under Rachael’s supervision. The project was very kindly funded by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.

Rachael was being employed to do the gilding by Campbell Smith & Co., a historic repair and restoration company which is undertaking repairs to the ‘Gingerbread’: repairing and remaking some of the carvings and then finishing them with gold leaf (gilding).

Here Rachael is showing how to gild the letters:

Ellen tries it herself:

And now Tony:

The letters before being cleaned up:

Then on to the ‘Gingerbread’:

Some of the decorative items had been removed for ease of gilding. Here the backing sheet is being removed from the gold leaf:

Ellen applies the adhesive:

Tony helps to finish the gilding:

The completed gilding; note the soft brush to remove the excess gold leaf:

And all this was filmed by Bruno Sorrentino for the Heritage Crafts Association’s DVD on Gilding.

The Heritage Crafts Association is most grateful not only to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths for their generosity, but also to Rachael Linton for passing on the skills, Campbell Smith & Co, Cutty Sark Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich, Ellie Birkhead the project manager, Bruno Sorrentino the filmer and maker of the DVD and the HCA’s own Laura Southall, Projects Trustee.

Photographs: Ellie Birkhead