Decorative Clocks

The Boll Phase

‘Quality is not an act, it is a habit’. 

Once the gesso has dried and any raised detailing applied and smoothed the final stage of building up the substrate is to seal the surface. This is done using a traditional ceramic based paint called boll. This is made up of a pigment and the remainder of the rabbit skin glue.

Up to three coats of boll may be required. The particulates in the boll fill in the pores in the gesso making it semi-permeable and ultra smooth once it’s surface has been burnished with a soft rag.

As well as serving as a sealant the boll acts as an undercoat to the leaf. Traditionally an ox blood red is used under gold and black or grey under silver leaf. For a more contemporary look I have experimented using different coloured boll underneath the leaf and then rubbed the leaf back to partly expose the boll to create a striking two tone effect.

Again, various alternatives to boll have been developed but this traditional paint gives the metal leaf a greater lustre as it bonds with the gesso to form a harder more durable surface, which can be burnished using a hard agate stone.