DES MOINES, Iowa — Every 30 or so years, the gold leafing at the Iowa State Capitol building needs to be redone.
The last time the gold was redone was in 1999, costing almost half a million dollars.
“It has gorgeous qualities of shine,” said Anne Domenech, the head gilder at EverGreene Architectural Arts.
Domenech is the artist who is regilding the domes and accents on the Capitol building. It is a process that takes six to seven weeks to complete. That includes all five domes, the big one completely covered in gold leaf. And the four others with gold accents and finials.
“It takes time, it just takes time. You want to make sure everything is covered,” said Domenech.
The process involves stripping away the old gold, prepping an adhesive material 12 hours before the gilding beings; and then working in only a couple hour timespan to actually put the gold leaf onto the exterior.
But the challenge is nothing new for a veteran artist like Domenech.
“Mainly state capitols, theaters, churches, public art, conservation and preservation of interior as well as exterior,” said Domenech. She came to the United States 40 years ago. Originally from Paris, France, Anne moved to the United States to finish a Masters in anthropology. She became obsessed with gold used in decorative painting, eventually gilding manuscripts for Princess Diana or working on the interior of the Empire State Building.
Every project provides another hurdle to jump. Iowa’s summer conditions gave two.
“The wind and the sun have been my allies and my enemies at the same time,” said Domenech.
There needed to be structures built that Domenech compared to aquariums so that the wind could be blocked while the gold leafing was done up on the building.
Other parts of the Capitol that needed to be regilded were brought down to the ground, where Anne could work more efficiently around all the intricate designs.