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beacon, new york 12508


Gilded Twig reflects art conservator and master gilder Deborah Bigelow's long career in art conservation and current business interest in handmade gold leaf art jewelry. 

Legion of Honor pan.jpg

solid gold

Like pure gold, some friendships never tarnish. They deepen with time and lead to treasured, never-to-be-forgotten experiences.


From June 2013 through January 2014, I was especially happy to be a Master Gilder on the team employed by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to conserve their 18th century Salon Dore from the Hotel de la Tremoille. Following a long and complex treatment, it was re-installed at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and opened to the public in April 2014.


  • Help assembling a skilled team
  • Help creating a treatment schedule to meet deadlines
  • On site treatment of architectural water-gilded surfaces
  • Project discussion and demonstration with visitors

SALON DORE (Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)

I enjoyed working on-site as part of a cohesive team solving technical and aesthetic problems on a large period room in full view of the museum-going public, within earshot of the construction crew’s jackhammers, and, of course, up against a deadline. On any given day as many as twelve people were busy restoring elaborately carved and gilded doors, door and mirror cases, pilasters and panels, all of which were extremely fragile and presented a poor appearance. 

The Conservation Team  Emy Kim, Jessica Burkhart, Natasa Morovic, Kristi Parenti-Kurtilla, Nancy Thorn, Marlene Raedisch, Adam Thorpe, Lisa Sardegna, Sarah Johnson, Tommy Nguyen, Deborah Bigelow, Danielle Boiardi

The Conservation Team Emy Kim, Jessica Burkhart, Natasa Morovic, Kristi Parenti-Kurtilla, Nancy Thorn, Marlene Raedisch, Adam Thorpe, Lisa Sardegna, Sarah Johnson, Tommy Nguyen, Deborah Bigelow, Danielle Boiardi

My Salon Dore story is equally a tale of friends supporting each other's work on a once-in-a-lifetime gilding conservation project. Elisabeth Cornu and I forged a friendship during our 5-year stint planning the Gilding Conservation Symposium and editing its publication, Gilded Wood: Conservation and History. Twenty years later, when her successor in the Objects Conservation Laboratory, Lesley Bone asked Elisabeth for recommendations to help with the project, she suggested me, and together they made my participation possible. I am eternally grateful to both of them, as well as the project curators, Martin Chapman and Maria Santangelo. 

I was ready for an adventure, and driving to San Francisco was like traveling to a distant galaxy. To prepare myself for the upcoming job, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s period rooms - one of which was similar to FAMSF's Salon Dore. My old friend and current MMA frame conservator, Cynthia Moyer arranged for me to meet with chief objects conservator, Mechtchild Baumeister and senior curator, Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide for a behind-the-scenes tour of all the period rooms. They were all three very generous with their time and knowledge, and Cynthia continued to help me with her knowledge of French gilding and recutting throughout the project.

Arriving in San Francisco, I was introduced to the museum’s frame conservator, Natasa Morovic whom I’d met briefly a decade earlier at an AIC conference where we had our picture taken together looking much the same as we did in Salon Dore pictures taken a decade later. Natasa was in charge of the project’s gilding conservation and together we located additional Master Gilders willing to drop everything to work on the project. With the addition of Nancy Thorn in July and Danielle Boiardi in September - both of whom I’d know for 10-20 years - along with the other wonderful Master Gilders and Conservation Technicians who worked tirelessly on the project, a positive outcome was assured, and lifelong friendships were strengthened or created.