A Simple To Make And Use Gold
A gold size is an adhesive which is used to make the gold
metal leaf adhere to the desired area to be gilded. There are
sizes made from water and gelatine and various oil varnishes. I
use a shellac gilding size as it is cheap & easy to make
up, also this shellac size is used to give a sealing coat to
the work as it imparts a pleasing colour.
I ran a system of craft workshops for nearly 20 years, I
needed a gilding 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.
After a lot of experimentation I
used a gold 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 is used a great deal in the furniture industry, the
reason I used it was that it was cheap and very easy to
All you need is the raw shellac and methylated spirits
(denatured alcohol) which can be obtained over the counter in
most countries. 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 gilding size is simplicity to mix.
The 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
dissolve 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 it can be used as a varnish to seal
the leaf after gilding, and 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 quite quickly if left in the open air.
Shellac is perfect when you have wooden surfaces like
picture frames to cope with, but supposing you want to gild
onto glass, ceramics or stone, well, you could use an oil based
size, or you could opt for an acrylic based size such as Simple
Scribe, which can be found on the Gold Leaf
Supplies page. This particular gold size is
very flexible, it can be used on almost any surface, from paper
For those who intend gilding on leather you must use a
shellac based glaire such as the one we sell, or make a
traditional size made from egg albumen. For more about leather
gold sizes visit our sister site edenworkshops.com
I cover this gilding size and all the processes on this site
in detail in two manuals that are free to download from the
OK now lets take a look at what is meant when we
talk about a gilding ground.
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