The evidence: The fine-art restorer's studio

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Sarah Potts specialises in antique and fine-art restoration - which includes water-gilding, oil-gilding, and lacquer restoration

"I think if my studio was any more cluttered than it is at the moment, I would be in strife and would find it difficult to work. The gilder's pad (1), one of my main tools, is made from sheepskin and parchment. You lay the sheet of gold leaf on it before applying the gold with a tip - a very soft squirrel-hair brush (2). You can barely even breathe, as the slightest bit of movement and the gold wrinkles up. Skewings (3) are small pieces of offcut gold leaf which are useful if you are gilding, say, a carving and need to get into the corners. The capital (4) is one of a pair I am working on at the moment. It's probably 19th century, and is made of resin and wood. Mostly I use methylated spirits to clean things, which I wipe off with white spirit (5) and cotton wool. I was using the blue oil paints (6) combined with varnish on a coaster to make a lacquer. I then oil-gild designs onto the coaster. I find the motifs (7) in 18th- century books, painted furniture or even decorations on wine glasses. I'm water gilding some picture frames (8) at the moment. You can water-gild any porous material, otherwise you have to oil-gild. The Adam chair (9) belongs to my father. I'm restoring it, but, as it's family, I don't have a deadline - it's taking longer than anticipated."

Interview by Aoife O'Riordain

Photograph by Adrian Fisk