Madame Butterfly Ceiling

This was my favorite project for this job, despite the challenges.

This is the rendering I received. What the rendering is lacking is information explaining that the background is gold leaf. Unfortunately I didn't get that information until we had bid for the job and ordered the paint. The panels were designed to be heavyweight muslin stretched over a steel frame. This would be the first time I ever gilded fabric. I went with imitation leaf to save on cost and for size. The rendering shows squares that are 6 3/4 inches....the largest leaf I could obtain was 6 1/4 inches. The designer had no issue with the change.

I treated the fabric as I would any drop; squaring it out, stapling it down, starching and basecoating. The base color is the color between the squares on the rendering.

Ceiling Base coat

I drew the florals out on grided craft paper and made a pounce. Then I pounced with with powdered charcoal and then markered it.

Line drawing

Ceiling line drawing

First I laid in the major areas of color:

Color added

Then the black areas:

Black added

Painted florals

Then the rest of the color went down:

Florals complete

It got a couple coats of sealer to make sure the sizing would sit on top of the fabric.

Ceiling detail

Ceiling painted

We decided to stretch them on the frames before I gilded them. I took me much of a day to apply the gold leaf sizing to the fabric. The sizing was brushed on all the areas where the gold leaf would remain.This is what it looked like after a day of applying the leaf. I had about a 36 hour window from when I applied the sizing to adhere the leaf. I would apply the size one day, then the leaf the next. The third day I would clean up the edges and burnish it.

Ceiling Leafed

This shows what an area looks like after it has been leafed.
Leaf applied

This is how I ended up removing the leaf from the areas where there was no sizing, as well as burnishing it into the fabric.
burnishing scrubbing

And this is what the same area looks like after. It was like I had a magic brush and the painting just miraculously appeared from it.


And here are the finished pieces:

Ceiling panel

Ceiling gold leaf

Butterfly ceiling complete


Butterfly Detail

So that is it. I sealed them since the imitation leaf has a tendency to tarnish. I would probably change a few things if I were to do it again. I'm not sure I would stretch it first the next time, or not. We did have some issues with sag; the sizing pulled it tight but it ended up sagging again later. Some of it has to do with the size and some with how it was stretched to begin with.

1 comment:

KarenCav said...

Ohhhhhh that is so beautiful. You are so talented.