Gilding of book edges
The term ‘book edge’ describes the three cut sides of a book. These three sides can be gilded with genuine gold leaf over several steps.
The classic method for embellishing book edges is the water gilding technique. For this method, the book is firmly clamped in a book press and then sparingly covered with a thin glue layer at the cut. Two additional thin layers of poliment (bole) then act as a polishing base and a substrate for the gold leaf. The dried poliment layers are carefully moistened, bit by bit, with a mixture of spirit and water, and immediately covered with the gold leaf. After drying, the gold leaf surface is polished with an agate burnisher. The result is a shiny gilded book edge.
Opening the gilded pages is very easy. Simply remove the book from the press, carefully roll the pages in the hands, and allow them to run through the fingers. The layers of glue, poliment and gold leaf break apart, separating the individual pages again. Close the book again and you will see a perfectly gilded edge.
The technique of oil gilding can also be used for gilded edges. To do this, clamp the book in the press and lightly coat the book edge twice with a thin shellac solution. Allow each layer of shellac to dry completely. Now carefully coat the book edge with diluted oil-size/Mixtion Lefranc and then with a cloth remove most of it to ensure a very thin layer of oil-size only. Wait for the Mixtion to dry before gilding, brushing and polishing. Gilding is possible with both loose and transfer gold leaf. Remove the book from the press and separate the pages as described above.