Palladium Leaf Vitrine

Ah, What Shall We Display in this Vitrine?

Palladium Vitrine Close-up

The Manhattan client my designer Trisha Reger was working for, has a beautiful apartment on Park Avenue with a spacious entrance. In this situation, I was asked to create a vitrine for displaying the decorative glass pieces the homeowner had found while traveling.

So after several months of tossing ideas around with Trisha, it was time to decide. While doing so, I had the following things to consider: Each side panel of glass would have to be tempered and held neatly in place. The access door on the front of the vitrine should look like all of the other sides and not draw attention to itself. Lighting had to be installed under each shelf and the wires concealed. Plus there had to be a transformer and a light switch to deal with….. The task really became a giant puzzle, but this is the kind of challenge I really enjoy.


As I began to build, I quickly stopped myself realizing that the wood I had selected didn’t have the strength and durability for the task. So I went back to the lumber racks and pulled out a piece of quarter sawn red oak. It was large enough to yield all of the pieces I would need, and it was fortuitous that I chose oak. My gilder, and fellow Beaconite, Janine Lambers explained, “Oak is the ideal wood because it really allows the gesso to grab.” She’s formally trained and restores fine antiques, among other things and I thought she would be great for this project. So I lobbied for her participation.

Hide and Go Seek

The biggest challenge was to hiding the wires supplying the electric for each shelf’s strip light. I did so by hollowing out the back legs and running the wires within to each shelf. The low voltage transformer and the on/off switch were hidden underneath. The only cord that could be seen was a short pigtail going to the nearby wall outlet.

As for the glass side panels, they were held in place with neatly finished frames, and the door was attached using concealed Soss hinges. Only a small knob distinguished it from the side panels.

Adding the Bling

Once the building was done, I took the vitrine across town to Janine’s workspace for gilding. She suggested two different silver options: Silver leaf or Palladium leaf. The former would tarnish in time, so we went with the palladium. She did an amazing job. Please notice the artistry of her work in the detail photo.

It was a wonderful project to be a part of and see the finished piece in the client’s home.