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21-04-2013 Article about Schitterend in Herenhuis (Mansion) Magazine

This month an article about Schitterend was published in Mansion in Magzine (No. 3, 2013,  April / May). The article is about my work as an artist and restorer ánd the almost-forgotten decorative techniques of the painting craft, I have reintroduced in The Netherlands. Mansion Magazine is a magazine for anyone with a passion for historic buildings (housing, lifestyle, craft & restoration, history & research). Mansion has made from both text and pictures a truly wonderful article. Curious? Then read the text below and click on the left side in the photo slider to see all related photos.

The beauty of decorative glass and gold leaf.
From childhood Erik Winkler was fascinated by the beauty of gilded ornaments, decorated window glass and antique mirrors in monumental houses. After studying Art History in Amsterdam the fascination remained. Erik has huge appreciation for the craftsmanship with which painters of ‘the old days’ delivered their objects. He wants to be able to make it himself and many years of study to manage the traditional techniques to perfection follow.

The slightest breeze makes gold disappear.
The studio of Erik Winkler is located in Diemen, under the smoke of Amsterdam. Outside on the facade a special billboard draws attention. It’s a carved wooden panel with gilt lettering and hand-cut, silvered glass. Besides the door a gilded figure '14' is to be seen on the fire red mailbox. Both objects betray what is made inside. "Welcome to Schitterend." Erik says when he opens the door. "In this family business, which I together with my brother Ferry took over from our parents years ago, I have my studio." Erik walks to a large worktable where he is gilding the reverse side a glass panel. "Please walk gently .... gold leaf is so delicate that the slightest breath of wind makes this sheet disappear."
A tour through the studio shows that Erik makes various types of objects, all based upon traditional painting techniques such as gilding, (antique) silvering, glass etching and wood and marble imitation painting. Scattered in the various working spaces you can admire the results of these techniques: gilded busts, etched door windows, Muslin glass samples, antique silver plated panels and reversed gilded glass artwork. The objects are in different stages of completion. "The majority are commercial assignments. A small part I make as sample material, but if you want to buy it, you can. Although it is very difficult to say farewell to some of the objects, since I worked for many weeks on it.

At an early age.
The interest in the craftsmanship of painting techniques was created at an early age, when his parents acquainted him with history, art and architecture by taking him to museums, mansions and churches. During these holidays Erik was the taught to appreciate the beauty of craftsmanship and art. He looked over his father's shoulder when he was gilding, decoration painting or screen printing. And so the love for beautiful things infused so to speak. A study Art History & Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam was an almost obvious choice.

Almost forgotten.
In his search for information about traditional painting techniques, Erik discovered that there was almost no literature available. Since WWII objects disappeared out of the houses and the streets, and with it the techniques. Partly it had to do with the speed of reconstruction, with the falling out of fashion, but also because of the danger in production processes. "And in the case of glass etching it also had to do with the fact that the ones that used to do it died at an early age, because they were exposed to hazardous substances. Knowledge was hardly transferred. "As a kind of Inspector Morse Erik started an investigation. In old books he found recipes, which he had to translate to the units and products we use nowadays. Then, to achieve practical knowledge, he attended various trainings abroad, including Canada, USA, Great Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic. "All over the world there is still fragmented knowledge available. I have put all that knowledge together and now I am the only one in The Netherlands that offers a complete palette of ancient painting techniques." he says proudly.

Restorations and replicas.
Schitterend is the name Erik since several years goes by since producing professional glass and other decorated materials. His workbench is filled with various kinds of brushes and jars with mysterious contents. Tucked away in a closet are chemicals for techniques, such as etching and silvering. The gold leaf chips that are literally scattered around give a golden glow to his workshop. "Here I make replicas, I restore and I create glass objects and works of art." says Erik. "It's really a precision work. It requires attention to detail, concentration, but most of all knowledge. It starts with the acceptance of an order. Should I make a restoration or a replica? On what material should I work? With what kind of materials and techniques will I work? Will the object hand inside or outside?" Based on this analysis Erik determines how he will tackle the project and how many hours or days it will take.

Muslin and etched window glass.
On a workbench lies a replica of an etched door window Erik is working on. "An antique window and a child playing with a ball does not work." Erik says. "Sadly the owner askes if I could restore the window to its original state. The box with many glass pieces told me that restoration was no longer possible." Erik suggested a replica by creating a new etched window. "With great patience I put the glass pieces together. After hours of puzzling the floral design became visible and I could reproduce the authentic design. I have etched the glass in different color tones, leaving plenty of depth effect. " That this activity is not entirely without risk is to be seen at the gear that Erik wears during the glass etching: a protective over-all, safety apron, gloves and mask. "Safety is paramount!"
Another technique to etch window glass is the decorative Muslin technique. Muslin-glass is used in large mansions for decorative skylights, partitions and en-suite doors. "I give the glass a beautiful pattern. I have managed to get hold of an original 19th century catalogue, so I can reproduce many original patterns.”

Antique mirrors.
Another specialty of Erik is antique silvering glass. This technique he uses to create both artworks and antique mirrors. "In monumental buildings you often see modern mirrors in antique frames. During restoration work the old broken mirrors were taken from the original antique frame and replaced by brand new mirrors. I can look at that with great frustration. Fortunately more and more people realize that a weathered mirror is better because it reflects the spirit and history of the frame and it gives the whole more character." Erik applies various methods to antique silver glass. The effects are equally diverse.

Variety.
The constant work switch between old and new, restoration and replica, makes his work challenging. There are no ready-made solutions, each job is unique. "I hope people enjoy the items that I makee for their property, that my work gives a house or office an authentic look and value."

The gold leaf master gilder tells stories.
Winkler has also built a reputation as a master gilder of reversed glass art (also called Hinterglas Malerei in German, or Verre Eglomisé in French). This is to be seen in the many pieces of glass art hanging on the wall in his studio. At the back of each piece of glass gold leaf is applied. From silver looking 12 carat, to deep yellow pure 24 carat gold.

Eternal gold leaf.
Since the Classic ages glass is gilded. All over the globe gold is valued for its warm glow. "Gold is one of the best light reflectors that exists. Only a little light is needed to make the gold shine. Gold leaf does not oxidize, is never dull. Did you know that a kilogram of gold can be rolled so thin that it will cover an area of ​​two tennis courts (500 m2)?! ".

The noble art of gilding behind glass.
Erik says that there are several methods to gild behind glass "Overall we can see there are three ways." Erik says. "When water gilding, gold leaf is attached to the backside of glass with a protein-containing aqueous solution. This provides a high gloss gold plating." he explains. "Then you can do oil gilding, with which gold leaf is glued o the glass with a clear varnish. That makes a matt gilding." he continues. "And finally, there is chemical gilding. This technique is does not use gold leaf, but of in Aqua Regia dissolved gold." Winkler mainly uses water and oil gilding in his work.

In and around the house gilding.
"But I gild not only glass," says Erik. "I also gild interior accessories such as deer antlers, vases, ornaments in stucco and furniture. And how about this beautiful blue lady!". He shows an ultramarine painted bust with gold leaf details. For years he had searched for the recipe of this Yves Klein blue, because he wanted to combine with gold lead into an art work. Erik also gilds outdoor objects such as tower cocks, cast iron fences, weapon shields and coats of arms.

Interested in the traditional techniques of Schitterend? Click here and read more.

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