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Society of Gilders Provides Golden Gift for New Orleans Church

Award-winning signmaker Francis Lestingi among contingent



In April, members of the Society of Gilders traveled to New Orleans to donate their skills to St. Alphonsus, a church listed on the National Register of Historic Places that remained in disrepair following damage exacted by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The church was then completing such repairs, but the funds were diverted to repairing disastrous water damage.

Francis Lestingi, an award-winning signmaker and Society board member, said a key aspect of their work on this trip (gilders also ventured to the Crescent City last year to complete similar work) comprised decorating 18, handcarved, high-relief, communion-rail panels.

To determine the original, decorative scheme, church officials had sent a panel to a university laboratory for testing. The test revealed that lead-based paint had been used for prior decoration. Thus, before the gilders arrived, lead-paint abatement and subsequent oil-based painting were required. Based on the report, the gilders painstakingly restored the panels with 23k goldleaf (Sepp Leaf [NYC] graciously donated the material).

Next year, the Society will return to New Orleans to gild more church artifacts. If have goldleaf experience and are interested, contact Lestingi at [email protected]





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