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