And if you want something commissioned to your own specifications, it can be done. ‘We also do bespoke mirrors,’ says Ossowski. ‘At the moment we’re making two mirrors in contrasting styles based on models we have, but in different sizes.’
Clearly these bespoke pieces won’t be antique, but Ossowski says this rarely an issue with clients. ‘Some people only want antique,’ he says, ‘but there’s less and less resistance as the older mirrors are so hard to find and expensive.’
Besides, the newly made mirrors are still handcrafted pieces of exquisite quality. ‘People are happy to be encouraging these skills,’ he says. ‘We’re doing it by hand and in this country. And after all, these are the same techniques we were using in the 18th century.’
Someone who’s using gilding in a more contemporary way is Rupert Bevan, creator of bespoke furniture and interior finishes. Bevan trained as a gilder when he started out, aged 18, and still incorporates it in his work for clients such as Soho House, Nicky Haslam and One Hyde Park.
‘When you talk about gilding, people think of gold, but you can gild in aluminium leaf and copper,’ he says. ‘Traditionally you might do cornicing or the gates on Buckingham Palace, but we’ve also done bathrooms and cloakrooms.’ He recently gilded the walls of a Primrose Hill bathroom in aluminium leaf, and describes the effect as ‘like being in a silver box’.
There’s a reason these techniques are becoming so popular, says Bevan. ‘They have longevity and depth because we’re using natural materials that have character. That marks them out from modern spray lacquer finishes. It’s the difference between a Findus pie and one that’s homemade.’
Indeed, he sees a bright future for gilding (no pun intended). ‘It’s been in the doldrums for a few years, but good craftsmanship is definitely coming back – people want that sincerity and depth.’
For more information about gilding talks at Ossowski, visit www.ossowski.co.uk.