The Enchanted WoodTrurners of Santa Fe NM

Guilding presentation by Steve LeGrue

Presenter: Stephen (Steve) LeGrue   August 2018

and a local artist video (45 minutes) on adding gold and metal leafiing.

What is gilding?  If you have ever been to Italy, France, England, Japan, China, Viet Nam or anywhere else in the world, then you have probably seen statues, Buddhas, furniture, picture frames or James Bond girls covered in gold.  That’s gilding and patination.  And if you already knew that, then do you know what netting and resist means?  And do you know that foils are not  always 18th century fighting swords?  How about the effects that sulfated potash or barium sulfide have on different metals?  Or the difference between rabbit hide glue and fish glue?  Well, Steve will answer all of those questions and demonstrate how gilding and patination can enhance your work and move it to a different level.

Steve’s presentation will start with a description and overview of gilding; i.e. what is gilding. After discussing the process he will paint a board with variegated acrylic and size the wood with Spar varnish. While it sets up (20 min in Houston, but faster in Santa Fe) he will show some slides of his work and answer questions.  When the board is “ready” Steve will add metal leaf. He may or may not have time to chemically patinate the piece.  If not, he will describe the patination process.


LeGrue Marks Gilding Chem patination handout (1)

LeGrue Marks Gilding Chem patination handout


Don’t know Steve … He grew up in Denver, CO without doing any woodworking to speak of.  He attended The University of California at San Diego, majoring in Biology, surfing and beach frisbee. After graduation in 1973 he attended Graduate School at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and received a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1977. After Graduate School  Steve and his wife moved to Houston, TX where he joined the new Organ Transplantation program at the UT Medical School. He was promoted to the faculty of the Departments of Surgery and of Biochemistry, where he did research and taught Immunology and Biochemistry to medical students and graduate students.  Eventually he moved to the University of Texas MD Anderson Hospital, where the first Department of Immunology in the country was started.

It was during Steve’s time at UT that he developed an interest in woodworking, principally because the furniture that he & his wife could afford was of such low quality that he thought, “I can do better than that!”  For a number of years he made furniture and boxes. Around 1985 he bought his first lathe. He had no turning tools and no one to teach him, but with the help of books by Dale Nish and Richard Raffan he began his journey in woodturning that has consumed Steve until this very day.  He joined the Gulf Coast Woodturners and the American Association of Woodturners which greatly accelerated his learning curve, and began placing his work in galleries and juried art festivals. There were no stores in Houston that catered to woodturners, so he could only get tools by mail-order from catalogs from out of state companies.

As his interest in research and teaching began to flag, Steve decided to open a woodworkers supply store dedicated to providing the finest turning and carving tools to discerning craftspeople in Texas and beyond. Thus, Steve & his wife Teri opened “The Cutting Edge” in Houston in 1993. Beyond turning and carving tools, The Cutting Edge was a full service woodworker’s supply. Steve launched one of the first on-line woodworking tool sites in 1994, and they grew the business to become the largest independent dealer of JET/Powermatic tools in Texas. They were the first retail store to offer OneWay lathes, and it was the only store in the US to stock tools by Jerry Glaser.  Steve taught hundreds of people how to make furniture and turn wood in their classrooms. Reluctantly they closed the store in January 2009 due to the recession, and since then Steve & Teri have lived a joyous retirement.

Steve’s interest in woodturning has evolved over the years to encompass segmented work, carving, burning and polychroming.  Round and brown is OK if the wood grain is spectacular or the form is dramatic, but he usually tries to do something with the turned piece off the lathe that enhances the work. He often adds segmented rims to burls and other dramatic bowls to emphasize the beauty of the wood. His current interests are in branding, coloring and gilding the turned piece to enhance the form and enchant the viewer. (see below)

Steve learned gilding and patination from David Marks, so both Steve’s and David’s handouts are attached.

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