Les Edge from Hare and Humphreys started working at the bespoke shop on Monday. It will take him a week to finish the Prince of Wales badge of three feathers on the bottom right hand window pane. Les brought his tools, paints and books of gold leaf with him and has attracted onlookers every day despite the bad weather. Everyone at Anderson & Sheppard will be very proud when we see “By Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales” unveiled next Monday.
We asked Les to tell us more about his job and about the royal warrant of appointment.
“The work here is more difficult than it looks as the access is very limited and the lettering is small and low down on the window pane. Two years ago, I worked on the Queen’s barge Gloriana which led the flotilla on the Thames Pageant day for HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The side of the vessel was decorated and gilded with a trompe l’oeil vitruvian wave scroll supported by gilded dolphins and heavily gilded ornamentation to the aft section. Most of the gilding was completed at Hare & Humphreys London workshops and I led a team of gilders with the help of lots of space and light. On windows, everything has to be applied in reverse. The feathers and lettering are applied as a mirror image and paints are applied in the reverse order. I use oil based paint colours which are mixed at our workshop. Today, I applied the gold leaf which is supplied in small booklets. Once the gold leaf was fixed to the window, I painted over it where necessary and then removed the rest. Unfortunately, we cannot recover the excess gold once it is removed as it is often too damaged to warrant recycling. That is why the government decides how much gold goes out to leaf each year. Depending on demand, it can be difficult to find books of gold leaf towards the end of the year as they can run out. There are 5 of 6 colour references for gold leaf but these are not coded. We tend to use ‘English Gold’ as is rich and deep in colour but other options include ‘French Gold’, ‘Italian Gold’ and ‘South African Gold’. ”