Gold Sizes Including BS Glair

Sizes are in effect an adhesive which is used to make the gold leaf adhere to the desired area to be gilded. There are sizes made from water and gelatine and various oil varnishes.

I ran a system of craft workshops for nearly 20 years, I needed a size that was easy to prepare and also easy to use as I employed several assistants who were semi skilled and needed something that was easy to handle.

gilding sizeAfter a lot of experimentation I used a gold leaf size made from shellac flakes.

Lac (Laccifer Lacca) are scale insects (insects that attach themselves in great numbers to plants and trees) which drain the sap from the bark of their host tree, allowing them to secrete lac resin which is scraped off and manufactured into shellac.

Shellac is used a great deal in the furniture industry, the reason I used it was that it was cheap and very easy to make.

All you need is the raw shellac and methylated spirits which can be obtained over the counter in most country's. If not you can used any 90 plus proof alcohol. The size I supply from this site is ready to mix with methylated spirit or any 90 plus proof alcohol.

I cannot supply a ready mixed size as the regulations concerning posting forbid sending flammable liquids through the post, but this size is simplicity to mix.

gold leaf size and bs glairThe recipe is four parts methylated spirit to one part shellac, that is to say 25g shellac to 100ml methylated spirit. You simply let the shellac disolve overnight and it is ready to use, very easy to make this size.

The size is simply brushed onto the area to be gilded and the gold leaf laid onto the surface. What really sold me on this size was the fact that the size can also be used as a varnish to seal the leaf after gilding, also the lacquer dries quite quickly and is also very hard when completely dry.

This is the size I sell from the site, you do need to keep the prepared size in an airtight container as the alcohol will evaporate out quite quickly if left in the open air.

I have tried oil based sizes but they are slow drying and often you are called upon to use a different varnish in order to seal the gold leaf making the process more complex.

For those who intend gilding on leather you must use BS Glair or the traditional size made from egg albumen. For more about leather sizes visit

I cover this lacquer and all the process's on this site in detail in two manuals that are free to download from the downloads page.


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