Professional Gilding and Sign Painting: Three Day-Intensive – Joe Balabuszko

Dates: August 5,6,7 – This is a 3 day class
Class Price: $820.00
Minimum 5 Student
Max. 10 Students

Intermediate skill level

About the class:
This hands-on three-day course with a Master Gilder & Journeyman Sign Painter teaches gilding fundamentals, hand lettering with One Shot enamel, and horizontal and vertical silk screening. Traditional methods meet modern-day applications. Everything will be presented in this class as glass gilding for sign painters on a job site—not in a studio. This class will leave you with the inspiration to try new art techniques or even a new career.

Expert demonstrations, active student work time, and opportunities for personal consultations and guidance turn this class into a mini mentorship. 

The lessons are paced over three days of instruction. During this course, you will:

  •  Learn about gilding terminology, tool use and materials
  • Make and use traditional water and oil sizes on prepared surfaces
  • Be introduced to gold types and textures and how they might be combined
  • Lay leaf on glass and three-dimensional objects
  • Produce patterns using lettering types and layouts for signs
  • Practice the basics of hand lettering with One Shot lettering enamel
  • Use silkscreen methods on horizontal and vertical glass 
  • Combine all three mediums 
  • Further understand how to give proper pricing estimates for products, projects and signs
  • Depart class with your own glass panel project

This is an intermediate level class for students who have some prior experience with gilding. Please e-mail Joe Balabuszko at if you have questions about registering for this class with your current level of experience.

Participants will learn the fundamentals of how to choose tools, brushes, paints and, and methods for signpainting and silkscreening. Layout of lettering, pattern making, as well as methods to silkscreen horizontally and vertically will also be demonstrated.  

Objectives: As a result of this course, you will be able to:

  • Apply different types of leaf using age-old techniques
  • Make and use traditional sizes on prepared surfaces
  • Use leaf on glass and three-dimensional objects
  • Produce patterns using lettering types and layouts for signs
  • Use different types of paint and brushes
  • Practice hand lettering 
  • Use silkscreen methods on horizontal and vertical glass 
  • Combine all three mediums 
  • Give proper pricing estimates for products and projects



Material included with class price
•2 pieces of glass 10” x 12” x 1/4” thick and 11.5 square x 1/8” thick
•Silk screening equipment + paint and ink
•Swedging tool 
•All paper for patterns + demo materials + solvents and misc materials for gilding and sign painting + artwork

$75 Kit from WB Gold leaf -if needed 
(Gilder’s Tip, size brush, gilder’s knife, gelatin capsules, gelatin diamonds, please – no substitutions) 

Additional tools needed – purchased separately by student 

  • ·      Size 2, 4, and 6 Lettering Quills
  • ·      Sharff Aquaflow Series 900 Size 6
  • ·      Stippling Brush
  • ·      3/8 inch pounce wheel
  • ·      Folding 6 foot measuring stick
  • ·      Mahl Stick
  • ·      Tabletop Easel (capable of holding a 10×12 sheet of glass)
  • ·      Non-latex gloves
  • ·      Notebook and pens for notetaking 
  • ·      Personal PPE. We will be working with paint and solvents. Students should determine if they need extra precautions (such as safety glasses, respirators, masks, etc.) 

Please contact instructor for details

About the teacher:

Joe Balabuszko, Master Gilder and Journeyman Sign Painter

Joe Balabuszko is a master gilder and journeyman sign painter, with over 50 years of experience in the trade.
His career began in Chicago. He was educated at the Washburne Trade School for 5 years with a concurrent apprenticeship at a Chicago sign company.  Joe learned every aspect of the sign industry. His main focus and specialty was hand lettering. Joe’s expertise expanded to include gilding. His gilded signs were seen across Chicago. 

 Large-scale architectural projects include the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chicago Union Station, and private building commissions.  Gilding has become Joe’s absolute passion as an artist. He has a wealth of knowledge on the history, use of materials, techniques, and applications of gilding. Joe is a teacher and mentor. He has helped to build a community of gilders across the globe.

 Memberships include: Society of Gilders, Colleagues of Calligraphy, Board member of the Chicago Brushmasters

Joe has taught tutorials for organizations such as The Chicago Brushmasters and Colleagues of Calligraphy. He continues to teach private studio classes. 

He has lent his gilding skills to volunteer efforts such as:  The Society of Gilders Community Project restoration of St Alphonsus Catholic Church in New Orleans. Presenting gilding demonstrations and donating his own original art at The Chicago Bushmasters’ fundraisers benefiting the Ronald McDonald House.

Joe was an advocate for what became the Museum of the Gilding Arts when the concept was being presented to the city of Pontiac, Il. Joe has been quoted in many trade publications about gilding and gilding techniques. 

 Photos of Joe’s famous sign painting “kit” can be seen everywhere. 

Contact the teacher

Additional resources:
W & B Gold Leaf
(920) 459-8206

Andrew Mack Brush Company
(517) 849-9272

Earl Mich Company
(630) 616-9000