Gold Leaf on Glass

Dale was the owner of two restaurant/bars called The Hunt Club in both Jackson and Hillsdale. He wanted gold leaf signs on the large glass windows at each store, plus a gold leaf name on the glass at his office connected to his airplane hangar at the airport.

For centuries, gold lettering and ornamentation on a glass window was utilized by upper echelon businesses and was considered the epitome of the sign makers craft. Dale commissioned me to accomplish three gold leaf window jobs.

The explanation of why gold sticks successfully to glass remains a mystery. The technique used for centuries utilized heated water with a single gelatin capsule dissolved into it. This mixture was flooded over clean glass and while wet, special handling occurred to lay the leaf against the wet glass. The first part of the procedure was to completely cover the area to receive the sign work with many 3-3/8-inch squares of gold leaf. The window then sported a quilt-like pattern of overlapped gold squares.  As the water evaporated, the gold was sucked tightly onto the surface of the glass and a mirror-like effect resulted.

To prevent the delicate metal from wearing off, the gold was backed up with paint only on areas where the gold remained for the design. This part of the process involved delicate brush work. The lettering and ornamental designs were all painted backwards on the inside of the glass and acted as a protective layer over the gold. The excess gold was removed later with another delicate process involving a mild abrasive.

Achieving the level of proficiency with this particular technique of the sign makers craft elevated my standing in the community. My goal had been to become the best. With these three jobs – what became my final three jobs as sign man in Jackson – I had achieved my goal, albeit with a broken heart, having been rejected by Gail once again. With these jobs complete, I made the remaining preparations to go to Florida. At the stable, I loaded the livestock, hooked the VW bus on the back of the rig, and headed south. There was no sense waiting.

The snow had begun to fall. Every hundred miles provided an improvement in the weather. I had a busy time ahead of me.

I didn’t know it at the time but God had a different plan for my life. Even before I arrived in Florida, I discovered a segue that would rocket me into the next chapter of my life.

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