Do It Yourself Art Gilt in <30 Minutes for $7

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If you’re like me, you love art gilt. Not long ago, you didn’t know it existed, but now you can’t imagine a Bible without it (cue the wives’ eye-rolling). Only high-end Bibles sport art gilt, and such Bibles come with a high price tag. Ergo, your love for art gilt, if fully expressed, will break your bank.

Since I realize the potential ridiculousness of this largely first-world concern (and the costs involved), I want to show you a way to get your art-gilt fix for $7– the cost of archival ink and cotton pads. [Qualification for the “first world” statement: Interestingly, many Bibles translations in languages of the “Global South” have red dyed pages too–see the banner photo on my blog as an example!]

Diego Caloca Jr. and Benjamin Vannoy, custom Bible binders, have helped me discover a DIY method for adding art gilt to any Bible with gold or silver page edges. After a few rounds of practice, I can confirm that you don’t need exceptional skill or deep pockets to make it work. As much as I’ve resisted making videos and thus hearing my own voice online, my desire to help others “figure it out” has prompted me to get over it and fill what is an online vacuum in DIY Art Gilding (cue the wives’ eye-rolling)… So take a look at this instructional video I posted on YouTube:

Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Get some ink and cotton pads. I used Ranger Wendy archival ink in the “geranium” color (purchase here).
  2. For your first attempt, don’t use your favorite Bible, or an expensive Bible.
  3. Disclaimer for the overly optimistic or perfectionistic: If you can’t tolerate some minimal red-dye on the end sheets, headband or tailband (in the event of amateur/human error), then don’t do this…unless you plan to send it in to be rebound, and thus outfitted with all new materials.
  4. Your fingers will have ink on them in the process–so take care not to smudge it all over the cover or pages of your Bible.
  5. Its hard to capture the fanning of the pages for gilding the top and bottom, so hopefully this photo will capture it better than the video did:

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Here is a before and after gallery of the Cambridge Revised English Bible in faux leather I used as my guinea pig:

You can also do this with Bibles or books with plain white page edges. Check out the results with my ESV Reader’s Bible:

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Side note #1: Whereas the page edges on Allan, Schuyler, and Cambridge Bibles smell like paper, the page edges on Bibles that have undergone this procedure smell like ink or dye. So be warned. I don’t know if this method of art gilt will hold up as well as those publishers’ styles in the long run either, nor do I yet know if that ink/dye smell will fade with time. Not a big deal at all, but worth noting.

Side note #2: I also replaced the single black ribbon marker on this Cambridge REB with two, luxurious 10mm burgundy Berisfords ribbons. To see how, check out Paul T’s excellent video on YouTube. I kind of botched mine in a minor way–its a more difficult process than applying art gilt, for sure.

Any questions? Any others more skilled than myself want to chime in (wink wink Diego and  Ben)?

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8 thoughts on “Do It Yourself Art Gilt in <30 Minutes for $7

    1. Good question! I’m eager to know the answer too 🙂 …I haven’t had it long enough to know. I hope some owners of Caloca rebinds will chime in if they’ve had one for a while. The blue under gold on my Allan ESV is actually fading a bit where my fingers rub the most…so I think even with the “best” this is bound to happen some.

  1. Oh boy, way cool! I’ve already started the process with some of my bibles and I’ll post pictures when I’m done.
    Thank you do much for sharing this technique.
    Betsy

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