Glossary

Below. A plethora of terms specific to framing and mirror making

CARVING
The resulting forms of wood sculpting using chisels, gouges, planes, etc. in conventional repeats or designs.

CHAMFER (kam’-fer)
The creation of a sloped, oblique surface on the edge of a board as seen on the side of a frame.

CLOISONNE
Enamel work in which the surface decoration is set in hollows formed by thin strips of wire welded to a plate in a complex pattern.

COMPOSITION ORNAMENT
Chalk, glue, oil and pine rosin compound used as a casting material, press molded into reverse carved boxwood patterns, first popular in the French Neoclassical period and spread throughout Europe and America in the 19th Century.

C-SCROLLS
“C” shaped connecting or terminal decoration reminiscent of the volute in capitals or columns.

DEMICENTER
Literally a half-center. The spacing or ornament placed between and center of a frame section.

DENTILS
Square projections derived from the Cornice of the classical orders.

DIAPERING
Patterning of a surface based on a diamond configuration.

DUTCH LEAF/DUTCH METAL LEAF
A copper and zinc compound rolled and flattened into sheets made to resemble (and used as a cheap substitute for) Gold leaf.

EBONY
An expensive cabinet wood, known for its dense texture, high polish and especially deep black to brown color. Popular in the beginning of the 16th century. Used in Dutch (Flemish) and Alpine frames.

EBONIZE
Refers to the painting of less expensive woods in a manner resembling ebony.

ENTABLATURE
A horizontal structure composed of an Architrave, frieze and cornice.

FLUTES / FLUTING
Repeated or parallel concave grooves in a column or pilaster; also used to refer to the “striations” of the Scotia of the Louis XVI and Empire frames in which a hallow carved perpendicular to the profile of the moulding.

FRIEZE
The panel of a moulding or center of an entablature seated parallel to the picture plane.

GARLANDS
A wreath of flowers leaves, etc. used as decoration

GESSO
A calcium carbonate or calcium sulfate and animal glue mixture used since Egyptian times as a coating preparation for wood, which will receive gold leaf or tempera paint.GILDING
The application of gold leaf; the aspect of an object that has been so decorated.GREEK FRET
An ornamental pattern of small, straight, regular bars joining at right angles into a running band.

GUILLOCHE
Decorative border design in which two or more bands are interwoven to form circular spaced between them.

HAZZLE
Decoration of a flat or background with a zigzag pattern executed into the Gesso before gilding; first appeared in Italian, Baroque and Louis XIII designs.

HUSK
Carving created to represent the outer covering leaves of certain fruits or plants.

LEAF TORUS
A half-round carved with overlapping or attached leaf forms.

MOULDED ORNAMENT
Cast, repeat ornament created from Gesso, Compo, Papier Mache, etc. using reversed carved molds of boxwood.

MOULDING
Continuous shape of profile achieved by hand planes and inshaves; the mechanized process replaced the handwork during the Industrial Revolution.

OVER MANTLE
Framed mirror placements over a hearth.

PANEL
A planed, flat wooded member often surmounted by mouldings at its edges.

PASTIGLIA
An ornament resulting from the building of fluid gesso mixed with honey into a low relief; most prominent in Venice during the Renaissance.

PATERA
A bas-relief in the form of the Roman sacrificial Patera saucer viewed from above; often viewed as a rosette or floral device.

PEDIMENT
A triangular or semi-circular top of a classical structure.

POLYCHROME
The quality of being executed in many colors.

PUNCH WORK
The decoration of the background between relief carvings or a graphic enrichment of a frieze by striking with a shaped tool or stamp, called “Bulantura” when done on top of the gilded surface. In later French practice this was executed onto the Gesso prior to gold application.

RABBET, REBATE
The recess of channel of a frame used to hold the painting thus hiding its edge from the viewer.

REPAREURS, REPARURE
The craftsmen who recarved the Gesso in the French Baroque through Rococo workshops, imparting a goldsmith’s share of detail to the wooden objects; the art of “recutting” the Gesso.

REPOSE
The “rests” or undecorated sections between the corner and center of a frieze or panel.

ROCAILLE
Refers to the rock and shell (garden) aspect of the Rococo style.

ROSETTE
A carved flower resembling a petaled rose; often a similar flower symmetrically carved to fill a plinth block. At times the uncarved member is called a rosette.

S-SCROLL
The connection of C-scrolls to form a scrolling movement throughout a moulding.

SAND FLAT, SAND FRIEZE
Either a recessed channel or step decorated with fine or coarse sand usually adjacent to the sight edge ornament. This textural addition to the framers palette began to appear in the Louis XIV period and was gilt.

SGRAFITTO
Decoration of surfaces, consisting of gilded over painting and scribing or scratching into the Gesso, to expose the gilt ground.

SIGHT, SIGHT EDGE
Innermost edge of the frame, the dimension of the visible window of the image is referred to as the sight size.

TORTOISESHELL
The translucent plates of the shell of certain species of marine tortoise; although in use since Roman times the widespread popularity occurred in 17th Century Netherlands and again in 18th Century France. It is illegal to trade in Tortoiseshell due to the endangered status of the animal. It is also illegal to import such frames into the United States.