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A note for search engine users: another term for gilding is gold leafing. Guilding is a misspelled version of the same word, it is common but incorrect.


Special Gilding, Painting & Restoration
 Courses at the Maiano Estate

A full 6 days (plus studio time) of excellent practical instruction from extremely experienced and professional teachers in the arts of Gilding, Restoration and Decoration of Frames and Furniture, and newly added Restoration of Paintings*

Enjoy the beautiful inspiring setting of the historical Maiano Estate, a quiet rural haven resort overlooking the city of Florence. Studio facilities and accommodations in comfortable holiday apartments on site are included in the price of the course.

The skills taught are useful for people who would like to restore or refurbish old paintings and frames, decorate or gild frames and furniture, or create contemporary works of decorative art using these high quality materials and techniques. The courses are suitable for both beginners and professionals. Small class size assures participants plenty of individual attention from instructors.

many small art businesses find that being able to restore paintings as well as restore or produce gilded and decorated frames allows them to offer new services to existing clients or broaden their market into the world of antiques buyers.

Course: Special Gilding, Painting and Restoration at the Maiano Estate
Level: 1, 2 or 3
Hours: max. 40 min. 28
Duration: 6 days: (check-in: Saturday: 4-7 pm, check-out the following Saturday by 10 am)
Dates: see schedule
Prices: €1790.00* - 40 hour course including 7 nights accommodations *€100.00 discount for early registration before Jan. 31, 2011
€1340.00 - 28 hour course including 7 nights accommodations

How to register: contact us or email alison@florenceart.net

Description: This special retreat course is offered only once or twice a year to provide an intensive course of study for those who want to get in as much learning as possible during their stay and are perhaps unable to get away for long periods of time. The location has been carefully chosen to offer you one of the most picturesque settings imaginable together with very comfortable accommodation. As you'll see, it is an ideal place for creative exchanges and inspiration. On the hillside of Maiano, overlooking Florence with Brunelleschi’s Duomo in sight, we dedicate time and attention to the development of your craft. Mornings and afternoons are spent in the studio painting and gilding your works of art and learning the skills of restoration. To add depth to your experience, you'll have personal contact with accomplished Florentine artisans, and learn about Florence's world-renowned historical works of art.

Read more about the Maiano estate or see pictures

The fee for the course is € 1790 euros and it includes the following:
accommodation in double rooms in holiday apartments (ask about a single)
welcome dinner
farewell dinner
tour of the Villa of Maiano
use of the studio space on site in the historical rooms of the ex-convent
studio equipment and supplies
course projects
course instruction
encounters with Florentine artisans (presentations, teaching, a tour of the artisan quarter)

Gilding course lessons include:
preparation of grounds including the making of rabbit skin glue gesso and bole
techniques of water gilding with 22 karat leaf, silver and false gold
gold size techniques
toning, antiquing techniques, oxidation and patinas for gilded surfaces
techniques for frames and panels
graffitto, punchwork
restoration of gilding

Decorative Painting course lessons include:
traditional Italian decorative colour application and decorative painting
making of colours with glue and pigments
imitation of marble and tortoiseshell, gilded accents.
decorative patterns for frames and furniture suitable for accompanying gilded moldings (example pattern sets are included)
decorative brushwork and the use of casein paints
patinas and distressed colour

Restoration of painting lessons include:
cleaning of oil paintings including various types of typical damage such as smoke, and old varnish
consolidation and conservation of the canvas and the painted surface
repair of cuts and tears
patching techniques
filling and retouching of the painted surface
the use of paints and varnishes specifically suited to restoration

Projects are prepared step by step by the students. Product recipes, procedures, and examples are given in the class notes.


Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Free morning 9:30-13:30
Restoration of Canvases
Restoration of Canvases

Check out by 10 am


Painted Decoration
Painted Decoration
Painted Decoration
Artisan tour in Florence
Art history Lecture
Restoration of Canvases
Welcome dinner
Studio time Studio time   Studio time 20:00
Farewell dinner

*Please note: It is possible to arrange extra lessons in any of the three subjects while opting out of the classes that interest you less.

Class: Gilding
Days: Sunday through Tuesday
Times: Mornings 9:30-13:30 (12 hours)
Teacher: Roberto Passeri
Location: in the teaching hall on site at Maiano

Class: Traditional painted decoration for furniture and frames
Days: Sunday through Tuesday
Times: Afternoons 14:30-18:30 (12 hours)
Teacher: Alison Woolley
Location: in the teaching hall on site at Maiano

Class: Painting Restoration
Days: Thursday and Friday
Times: Thursday Morning 9:30-13:30, Friday Morning 9:30-13:30 and Friday afternoon 14:30-18:30 (12 hours)
Teacher: Chiara Mignani
Location: in the teaching hall on site at Maiano

Course Descriptions:

Traditional Gilding Techniques:
We make gesso and bole, traditional materials used to prepare a wooden surface for water gilding. We go through the steps of preparing the objects to be gilded, carefully preparing the ground for the leaf. After this important phase, we start with the application of gold and silver leaf. We also cover the use of gold size, oxidization, finishing and antiquing of gilded objects, useful for decorative work and in the restoration of antiques. Read our article on gilding.

Florentine Decorative Painting Techniques:
We start with making the gesso ground commonly used to decorate Florentine furniture. This is a special gesso that produces a very natural crackle effect. We discuss wooden furniture and its preparation. Students are introduced to the use of casein paints. We make several small projects to explore decorative painting techniques like faux marble, tortoise shell, antique patinas, and the basis of decorative brush stroke work. There is an optional project involving the use of light and shade (chiaroscuro) in decorative painting for more advanced painters. Students are given a sample book of patterns to use on future projects.

Painting Restoration:
The teacher will demonstrate various aspects of cleaning and conserving oil paintings on canvas. We use various materials (solvents, paints) and tools specifically used in restoration and try different aspects of the process. We have available a variety of old paintings, each presenting various types of dirtiness and damage, and the best approach to cleaning and repair will be addressed in each case. A series of exercises are given by the teacher to address other specific areas of the process of restoration. The emphasis of the course is practical, rather than scientific or theoretical, and aims to show students practical and simple ways of restoring paintings in a very professional and correct manner.

Projects proposed for each student to complete and take home will be two small frames, a tray and various sample boards. The painting restoration projects will involve working on old paintings which will remain in the possession of the studio, although some exercises regarding painting conservation will be taken home.
Projects may vary.

Instruction is in English, and in Italian with English translation.

About the Teachers:

Roberto Passeri:
Roberto is a gilder and restorer, author of numerous publications on restoration of gilded objects, who taught for many years and was a member of the admissions review commission at the famous school of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence, the state authority on art restoration. His specialty is the restoration of wooden objects and gilded surfaces. He has overseen many important restoration projects in Florence, and abroad. Among his projects of note is his role as technical supervisor of the restoration of the altar in the cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, where the famous painting "Beheading of St John the Baptist" by Caravaggio is displayed, at Valletta, in Malta.

Alison Woolley Bukhgalter:
Alison is and accomplished decorative painter, owner of Florenceart studio, in Florence Italy. She is commissioned regularly to paint furniture and decorative art by interior designers and private collectors in Europe and North America, as well as for the Italian decorative furniture industry. She graduated with honours and received two scholarships from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto Canada, then worked for many years in various artisan studios under the guidance of master artisans in Florence before opening her own studio.

Chiara Mignani:
Chiara is a paintings conservator, owner of her own restoration studio in Florence where she works on public commissions from the O.P.D. and the 'Soprintendenza' of fine arts in Florence as well as private commissions. She is an honors graduate of the prestigious and internationally recognized school of restoration, the 'Opificio delle Pietre Dure' in Florence, with an extensive and varied working experience in the important museum collections and private restoration studios of Florence. Chiara also teaches at the International Art University Foundation of Florence.

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