A Simple To Make And Use Gold Size 

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.


gold sizeAfter 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.


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 (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.


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 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 to glass.


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 download page.


OK now lets take a look at what is meant when we talk about a gilding ground.




Hi there, I've been browsing your wonderful website and I can't wait to have a go at some of the techniques you explore on there. Your manuals are definitely the best Iv'e found on the internet. 
Seb Dale 
I just want to salute your generosity in giving away your gilding knowledge. Excellent guide books,  I was not able to find such a simplified explanation in any book at the local library. 
Ghassan Haddad 
After looking at various sites and suppliers on the net, your site is just wonderful - clear, accessible, descriptive and demystifying. Thanks so much for making your knowledge available! Liz 
You did a brilliant job of mentoring me through my project, it turned out very well, I am extremely happy with the results.
Your manuals are excellent. I easily worked my way through your gilded manuscript project and the result is now framed and hanging in my living room. Thank you.