Heritage Restoration Craft Skills for Painting, Furniture and Interiors (short course)

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Why study this course?

Learn about and develop a deeper understanding of the heritage crafts used in western art for centuries, including paintings and architectural interiors, churches and historic houses. 

More about this course

On this course we will cover a wide range of restoration skills, including gilding, japanning, varnishing, French polishing and egg tempera painting. Suitable for beginners, as well as those with some experience, this practical course will guide you through the materials, processes and techniques of a range of traditional craft skills.

The gilding will focus on water gilding, but oil gilding and verre eglomisé (gilding on glass) will also be covered. Japanning and varnishing will look at the traditions of Chinoiserie decoration and the historic resins and varnishes that were used, in addition to modern materials. French polishing will look at the traditional methods to apply a beautiful shellac finish to wooden furniture using a polishing ‘rubber’ or ‘mouse’. Use of egg tempera will visit the methods and materials of medieval panel paintings and look at modern takes on this venerable painting technique.

The course will appeal to anyone who has an interest in historic craft skills and their application. Don’t worry if you have never picked up a paintbrush before, you will gain new skills on the course. Equally the course will appeal to those with some grounding in craft but who need to hone their skills or branch out with new ones. The course will be of particular interest to those in the heritage and conservation/restoration industries, in addition, interior decorators and fine artists looking to diversify and increase their earning potential will find the course useful. The course should also appeal to those pursuing entirely different careers who wish to get hands-on for a few days by way of a change.

Fees and key information

Course type
Short Course
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Course structure

Day One

  • discussing, preparing and applying the gesso ground – layers of chalk and rabbit skin glue that form the vital substrate for gilding, japanning and egg tempera painting
  • a discussion and introduction to the various techniques
  • application of bole (gilding clay) and paint layers for japanning

Day Two

  • water gilding
  • gilding on glass
  • an introduction to japanning techniques and egg tempera media, focus of the day will be the practical application of genuine gold leaf using a gilders’ tip and cushion

Day Three

  • French polishing using traditional methods and materials
  • by way of contrast, an introduction to modern spray techniques

Day Four

  • a day to continue with what you’ve found most interesting and enjoyable with the focus being on a continuation of japanning and varnishing techniques as well as the application of egg tempera

Day Five

  • a recap and final discussion 


Course dates

Course dates 3 to 31 October 2019
Length One day a week over five weeks
Day and time Thursday, 10.30am to 4.30pm
Maximum class size 12
Contact hours 25


A 20% discount is available for:

  • those who are registered as unemployed and in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit
  • those whose sole or main income is a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state retirement pension
  • those who are registered as disabled and in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • full-time and part-time UK students on credit-bearing courses
  • London Metropolitan University students on year-long day courses
  • London Metropolitan University alumni members
  • London Metropolitan University staff

If you're eligible for the 20% discount, please contact us before booking.

What's included in the price?

Materials are included in the course fees. 

Terms and conditions

Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

How to apply

To book on to one of our short courses, click the apply button or visit our eShop.

When to apply

Please note, the deadline to book a place on one of our short courses is one week before the start date. If you have missed the deadline, please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate you.