Skip to Main Content
Sign In
Toggle Navigation

Open the Navigation Management window, which can be used to view the full current branch of the menu tree, and edit it.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook

MITRA Forum Question Details

Image Picker for Section 0


  • Red bole ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2016-12-07 10:11:57 ... Most recent comment 2016-12-07 10:57:00
    Animal Glue Art Conservation Topics Drying Oils Flexible Supports Gilding Grounds / Priming Oil Paint Paint Making Pigments Rigid Supports Sizes and Adhesives Technical Art History
    I am searching for information on the use of red bole in oil painting. My understanding is that it is a clay [primarily used in building at this point] that can be diluted to cream consistency, mixed equally with warmed RSG, and applied over traditional gesso for toning a surface. Setting aside the structural debates of stretched linen/canvas surfaces, how can one use this over such a surface. Are there any pigments that approximate this clay, or is there an oil ground approach that provides a comparable alternative? Thank you for any time or considerations.

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerI think that you are asking whether red bole can be used on canvas paintings and if there are substitutions. I am still not sure whether you wish to gild the canvas surface or not. I will briefly cover some of the issues you bring up. Red bole is a iron oxide containing clay that, in art making, is almost exclusively used when water gilding. The clay, often purchased in aqueous paste form, is generally mixed with an animal glue to a thin, creamy consistency and applied very smoothly in multiple layers over the areas that are to be gilded. Glue gesso or chalk glue grounds are the traditional surface for water gilding. Glue-bole mixtures should not be applied over oil paint and it is problematic to apply it on a canvas substrate at all. The resulting glue-bole mixture is really too brittle for fabric supports. On panels, the bole is allowed to dry and buffed or burnished to a high polish. The bole is then whetted with water or a very weak glue-water, alcohol mixture and the gold is floated on this solution. The water swells the glue already in the bole which will serve as the adhesive for the gold. The liquid is drawn into the bole and ground which adheres the gold to the surface. When it has set or dried the appropriate period, the gold is burnished. We can often see this bole layer on old gilded surfaces where the gold leaf has worn away. This has become associated with old frames and the effect is now even emulated in a faux finishing manner. There are a number of products available to produce this appearance. Some are bound in acrylic dispersions and other media. Oil gold size can be purchased containing a red pigment or red earth colors can be added to clear oil size for the same effect. If you are simply looking a bole-like paint most red earth colors (eg Venetian red or English red) in oil or acrylic dispersions will suffice. Please read this earlier MITRA response for more information about oil gilding on canvas and feel free to ask an additional question if I somehow missed the essence of your query.
    Baade, Brian
    2016-12-07 11:32:03
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentThank you Brian. In my initial post, there was an auto-correct error on my part. It was meant to say for "gilding" as opposed to "building". My question was meant to find a suitable replacement for red bole on a linen canvas surface with oil ground instead of traditional gesso. Your comment was very helpful and points me in the direction of a couple alternative materials for my purposes. Thank you again.
    2016-12-07 21:22:38
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentThere is a excellent product called Dux Venitian Red Burnisher Sealer that is oil/solvent based and can be applied over just about any sort of ground as it seals even absorbent grounds and prepares them for the next step of applying the oil size before gilding. It is self leveling and can even be built up much like a traditional gesso for raised textural effects. It looks very much like traditional bole once applied. My main tip is to stir it very will before using as components do settle and need to be thoroughly mixed in before use. If you are applying a color over an acrylic ground and want to gild over that then you can also use acrylic paint. Golden's Fluid Acrylic in the Red Oxide color works very well for this and replicates the color of a traditional red bole. If you go this route you can also use a water-based size over the acrylic paint (never over oil paint). Wundasize is a very good size for this purpose and very easy to use.
    2016-12-10 21:42:49

Page Settings and MetaData:
(Not Shown on the Page)
Page Settings
MetaData for Search Engine Optimization
MITRA Forum Question Details
This page cannot be accessed until you accept the Terms of Use, which can be found here.
Please note that this Terms of Use system uses cookies. If you have cookies disabled you will not be able to accept the agreement. If you delete our cookies you will need to re-accept the Terms of Use.
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489