Furniture AppliqueDo you want to take your furniture to the next level? Tired of the ordinary? Furniture appliqués have been considered through time to enhance superior furniture. The French influence brought showy furniture to the front stage, and it was admired around the world.  It was during the rococo era, where Europe embraced the use of gilt-bronze mounts, brass inlay and quintessential gilded enrichments that we all admire to this day.

The rococo movement was a refined, and paired down expression that was developed as a reaction against the grandeur of the Baroque style which came before it. French furniture, at this time, embraced the detail found in the baroque styles, which was often expressed through the wood carvings and bronze ormolu.

Designers Who Pushed This Look Forward

Jacques Caffieri (1678–1755), whose finished gilt-bronze pieces were almost as fine as jeweler’s work. In France, neoclassic ormolu was attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751–1843) was continued by Lucien-François Feuchère. Beurdeley & Cie. produced excellent ormolu in rococo and neoclassical styles in Paris, and rococo gilt-bronze is characteristic of the furniture of François Linke.

The Dirty History Of Ormolu

Ormolu, isn’t the furniture decoration itself, but I have come to learn that it is a term that describes the finish used on metal to imitate gold.

In the 18th-century, the term Ormolu was used by the English to describe a specific process, which gold was finely ground, and applied to an object in bronze.

The manufacture of true ormolu is a toxic process known as mercury-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold is adhered to the metal object. This process was chiefly used for furniture mountings, rococo clocks, and accessories.

Just How Toxic Was This Process??

Ormolu pieces were no longer produced after the early 1800s because of their substantial cost and extreme health risks.  Using real gold was costly, let alone the exposure to mercury fumes, most gilders did not survive beyond 40 years of age.

Mercury poisoning damaged  the brain, kidney, and lungs.  Sensory impairment such as vision loss, hearing loss, and speech loss were common symptoms with mercury poisoning.  A lack of coordination was another symptom of exposure. Itching, burning and redness of the skin, in addition to profuse sweating, faster-than-normal heart beat, increased salivation, and high blood pressure.   Also add to that, loss of hair, teeth, and nails, muscle weakness, and increased sensitivity to light.  Today many children in Africa, die early as a result of inhaled mercury vapors while trying to extract precious metals from computer parts.  More frightening is the vaccines that contain thiomersal that we made available to the public and children.

The Use Of Furniture Appliques Today

Today many use the word “ormolu” is used to describe an item that also may be merely painted with gold paint. Gilt bronze is another term that bears no relation to the ormolu process, but can allude to gilt furniture appliques.

Many people are making furniture appliques popular again by using less expensive approaches. For those who paint furniture, or restore furniture there are several options available to you.  There are sellers on ebay who produce genuine high quality furniture appliques out of bronze such as Ari’s Luxury on ebay View some of their collections, here.  Ari’s Luxury offers a very nice selection of 24k gold plated embellishments that can be glued,pined or nailed at a very affordable price.

There are also many other sellers who re-produce French styled ornaments such as Chic 1350′ on ebay.   Their appliques are made from resin and wood fillers, so they can be stained or painted.

Kinds Of Appliques

Appliques can add a extra level of prestige to a chest, side board or wall cabinets. Wood appliques are hand carved, and perfect for furniture or cabinetry made from solid wood. Wood can be stained, pickled, gray washed or limed for that Swedish look.

Wood Appliques

Carving appliques are time consuming and difficult, which makes wood appliques expensive, but well worth it. Wood appliques can be painted and can be stained to match any existing wood furniture or new project.

Use appliques can be added on cabinet doors, between wall molding, above doorways, and on your doors. Appliques can be combined with other designs to make up a customized look.

Resin Appliques

Polyurethane appliques can be very affordable, and give you the extra glamor that you see in the old world French and Swedish homes. Resin appliques are lighter in weight and come in a wide variety of sizes.

Ebay has become my best friend for finding those one of a kind French hardware. I particularly love to collect the bronze wreath escutcheons, and they are very hard to find.

Over the years I have duplicated antique hardware that I have collected, and be able to dress up many of my favorite pieces in my home to give them more of a Swedish / French look for less.

You also can make your own furniture appliques using molding putty. Duplicate a special piece of hardware to dress up furniture around your home.

Watch a video of how easy this is at Alumilite- How To Make Rubber Molds, they step you through the process of making your own molds using their amazing mold putty, which you can then use with casting resins. Their instructional videos make it seem very easy compared to bake in the oven clays which are incredibly hard to soften up.

Here are some of the products worth buying…..

  • Amazing Mold Putty $24. This putty will help you to make your own molds for resin, food, soap, wax, clay and more.
  • Amazing Casting Resin – $19 Liquid to solid within 10 minutes. Each kit contains 16 fluid oz. Your cured Amazing Casting Resin piece can be painted, stained, dyed, tapped, drilled and machined.
  • Environmental Technology 4-Ounce Castin’ Craft Mold Release Conditioner– $8 used to release molds when casting with Castin’ Craft Polyester Casting Resin or EasyCast Clear Casting Epoxy. We recommend Mold Release/Conditioner as a release agent and to clean, condition and extend the life of your molds
  • Mold builder is a natural latex rubber that is quick drying, economical to use, peels easily from model, flexible and stretchable, harmless to most surfaces. Now you can duplicate figurines, sculptures and other items with safe, brushable latex rubber. Mold builder will not stick to metal, clay, ceramics, plaster, wood, or plasticine clay. Mold builder molds are durable, reusable, and economical to make. The molds you make from mold builder can be used to cast paper, plaster, candle wax, soap, casting resin or casting epoxy.
  • Smooth-On Silicone Mold Making Rubber -Use this silicone mold making rubber for making perfect reproductions of original models. It captures intricate detail and is easy to use. Use silicone rubber compounds that feature convenient one-to-one by volume mix ratios (no scale necessary). OOMOO 30 has a 30-minute pot life, with a six-hour cure time.
  • Smooth-On Smooth-Cast 325 ColorMatch Liquid Plastic – Perfect for pouring into a rubber mold. Turns from liquid to solid plastic and reflects perfect detail. Ideal for duplicating a variety of patterns.
  • Smooth-On Universal Mold Release – formulated especially for mold making and casting, and works well with most liquid rubber and liquid plastic products
  • Smooth-On Smooth-Cast 300 Liquid Plastic Compound– Perfect for pouring into a rubber mold. Quickly turns from a liquid to a solid, durable plastic. Ideal for duplicating a variety of original models or sculptures. The Smooth Cast 300 Series of liquid plastics are ultra-low viscosity casting resins that yield castings that are bright white and virtually bubble free.

Additional Articles:

-Ornamental Furniture Molds From Top Quality Moldings- Meranda’s Picks – Hersite

-20 Common Painting / Furniture Restoration Questions Answered- Hersite

-Overhead Projectors For Stenciling Projects And DIY Furniture Appliques – Hersite

– Ari’s Luxury Ormolu – The Swedish Furniture

– Furniture Appliques On Ebay- The Painted Furniture