There are numerous recipes for composition and the term is used to cover many forms of raised decoration including papier mâché and 'pastiglia'. However, the traditionally accepted form of 'gilders' compo' is a mixture of resin, linseed oil, animal glue and whiting. Ornament is created by pressing the warm, dough-like composition into reverse-carved moulds of boxwood or fruitwood (Thornton, 1985). When released from the mould the composition will have taken on the detail, however fine, of the mould. At this stage it is pliable and easy to cut enabling the ornament to be placed onto curved surfaces or into corners. Once dry, composition is hard and brittle and cannot be cut into or carved without the material splintering or shattering. Though composition itself is very durable, shrinkage can be a problem and regular breaks and gaps are a common feature in this type of ornament. As it shrinks and breaks it sometimes also curls away from the support.
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