- BOLE: clay laid down in a thin layer between the
gesso and the gilding
material on a frame molding. The color of this clay is often a clue to
the origin of the frame. Red bole is characteristic of European frames,
while blue/grey bole suggests a pre-1900 American provenance.
- COMPO: composition material made of chalk and
resins, used to make molded ornament.
- COVE: concave shape. A coved molding has a concave
shape, and that concave part of the profile is called the cove.
- GESSO: mixture of glue and chalk, applied to the
surface of the wooden
frame structure to provide a smooth surface for the gilding material.
- GILDED OAK: gold leaf laid directly on oak wood
molding, with no
intervening gesso and bole, allowing the grain of the wood to show
through. Gilded oak was championed by Charles Eastlake, and it was
popular during the Arts and Crafts Period.
- OGEE: S-curve. An ogee molding has an S-shaped
profile, which slopes
inward toward the center of the frame. A reverse-ogee molding slopes
outward toward the outside edge of the frame.
- PROFILE: the shape of the molding when viewed on
- RABBET SIZE: The L-shaped space in the back of
the frame that holds
the glass or the painting is the rabbet. The rabbet size defines the
dimensions of that space.
- SIGHT SIZE: The sight size defines the
dimensions of the space enclosed
by the frame, when viewing it from the front. The innermost molding on a
composite frame is called the sight molding.
- SILVER GILT: silver leaf coated with an
orange or honey-colored
lacquer. Silver gilt frames can be distinguished from their gold-leaf
cousins by the small black spots on their surface, where the lacquer has
worn away, exposing the underlying silver to the air and allowing it to
- TYPES OF FRAME CONSTRUCTION:
- SIMPLE MITER JOINT: molding sticks cut at 45
degree angles, and held together with glue and nails. (Figure 7)
- SPLINE JOINT: molding ends held together by a
strip of wood laid perpendicularly to the miter joint. (Figures 8+11)
- LAP JOINT: adjoining ends of molding sticks cut
with overlapping sections.
- MORTISE AND TENON JOINT: projecting piece
(tenon) from one
molding stick fits into carved out space (mortise) in
adjoining molding stick.
- BUTT JOINT: adjoining ends of molding abutted
end to side, usually with a narrow mitered surround that holds them
together and makes the outside edge uniform.
Illustrations courtesy of William Adair, The Frame in America, 1700-1900.