8 January 1999

Giving stones some character

ICANT quite see the point of painting on stones. What are you supposed to do with them once you have weighted down every potentially flyaway piece of paper in the house? However, I have to admit that Lin Wellford has produced some endearing characters in her book* which shows how to paint animals on stones.

Her penguins and kittens in particular have real character about them and colourful step by step photographs encourage readers with only a modicum of artistic ability to try to turn a common or garden stone into something to treasure.

A more traditional way of turning the ordinary into something special is by gilding. Gold coloured leaf is available in genuine gold or Dutch metal – an alloy metal made of 90% copper and 10% zinc which is stronger and cheaper than the real McCoy.

In Glen McDeans guide** to easy gilding, which mostly uses Dutch metal, even a complete beginner will be inspired to add the golden touch to cherubs, fruits and nuts and candle pots. Once these are mastered there are urns and cabinets, ornaments and icons to tackle before reaching the advanced skills needed for the verre eglomise picture. Verre eglomise is the application of gold and silver coloured leaf to the back of glass or a glass panel, and is enhanced with a painted design. The picture in the example given in the book will take two and three quarter hours to complete and times and level of difficulty are given for every project.

Gilded items are very fashionable at present – witness the newly refurbished Albert Memorial – and while this book wont turn its readers into gilders on the grand scale, it will allow them to put a stylish gloss on things for the home. TG

*Painting Animals on Stones, by Lin Wellford, Search Press (£10.95).

**The Gilding Book by Glenn McDean, Search Press (£10.95). Both books are available in book and craft shops or post free if you mention farmers weekly when ordering by credit card on the Search Press books-by-post service. Freephone (0800-146860).