This section is from the book "A Treatise On Architecture And Building Construction Vol4: Plumbing And Gas-Fitting, Heating And Ventilation, Painting And Decorating, Estimating And Calculating Quantities", by The Colliery Engineer Co. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Architecture And Building Construction.
Parchment Size. To prevent blooming, the gilded surface should, on completion, be gone over with parchment size, which is made by melting parchment cuttings and diluting these with warm water. This is applied with a camel's-hair brush lightly over the surface of the gilding. The greatest care must be taken to keep the apartment free from dust, both while the gold size is wet and tacky and the parchment size is being applied or drying. Some gilders use pates or paper-stainers' size, instead of parchment. Considerably cheaper, it is, however, on account of inferior transparency, unfitted for good work. One coat of parchment size is sufficient for comparatively small surfaces, such as moldings, etc., but on a wider expanse of gilding, it is, in some instances, well to go over the surface even a third time, to make certain that the gold is fully covered, otherwise the work may, from the blooming of parts insufficiently sized, present a spotted appearance. The parchment cuttings for the size are heated gently over a gas stove, as shown in Fig. 55, in an earthenware vessel, similar to that shown in Fig. 56, which is preferable to a metallic pot.
158. Generally speaking, it is impracticable to stencil ornamental patterns, especially those made up of minute parts, to be executed in oil size or paint. Oil size may be, indeed, used as readily as Japan gold size in exterior work well above the level of the eye, but as oil size invariably spreads under the stencil plate, the Japan is, in many cases, preferable for stenciling in gold. In the case, for instance, of an ogee molding, oil size must, of necessity, be altogether discarded, its greater bulk or consistency causing it to leave unsightly edges on the pattern, which not even careful cutting in afterwards with the ground color could effectually obliterate. Japan gold size, being, on the other hand, of a more fluid nature, will, if properly prepared by the addition of a slight modicum of good copal varnish or linseed oil, as the weather or temperature of the apartment may demand, yield work not necessarily requiring to be sized with a solution of parchment cuttings, as is the case with work rendered in the more solid vehicle of oil size.
159. Here note that while it is, in some cases, essential that painted work should be prepared by means of white of egg and whiting, so that the gold may adhere only to the sized parts, a fruitful cause of the spreading of oil size and even Japan, is that painters dust too great a quantity of whiting over the work. Some decorators rub a soft cloth over a ball of whiting and apply it with all the gritty particles to the work to be gilded. Now, if an unpleasant after-task of cutting in rough edges is to be avoided, tie the powdered whiting in a bag made of two or three folds of the finest muslin, removing any of the dust escaping from the meshes of the material. If the work is well covered with a solution of white of egg, the merest touch of the pounce bag should suffice. There being a reason for everything in the decorator's practice, it may be mentioned that the white of egg is used to prevent the gold leaf from adhering to the paint, and that the whiting serves the equally essential purpose of preventing the gold leaf from adhering to the white of egg. Thus it may, in a particularly hot room, happen that the white of egg may, if used with too small a proportion of water-an error to be carefully avoided -or from the extra tackiness of the ground work, prove difficult to remove, refusing, for instance, to yield easily to the persuasive influence of a soft, damp sponge. If, in such a case, the gold leaf also adheres to the white of egg, the work becomes practically worthless.
In practice, the proportion of water should be rather more and never less than 4 ounces to the white of an egg. The work upon which the gilder is to exercise his skill being then very tacky, either from the humidity of the atmosphere, or too great a proportion of oil in the preparation of the color, it is best to defer, for a few days, the commencement of operations. If the egg be too weak, the gold will stick to the work; if too strong, the egg will remain where the gold is washed off, and the work found streaked in all directions with marks from every hair composing the tool with which it may be applied.
160. Without attempting to lay down any hard and fast standard of good taste in the use of gold leaf, it may be truly said that work otherwise good is as often marred by the abundance as by the poverty of the precious metal's display.
Where it is sought to introduce gilding as an aid to decorative detail on the woodwork of an ordinary apartment devoted to living purposes, the wall paper should be taken as much into account as the painting of the woodwork. Because the wall paper happens to be of a certain tone, it does not follow that the painted work must match it. Neither must it be supposed that a wall paper, relying for effect upon metallic details in the design, needs the support of a quantity of gilding on the painting placed in juxtaposition with it. If, on the contrary, the walls have a mass of metal or gold, as the paper stainer generally terms it, introduced into their hangings, it is often better to dispense with gold in the woodwork, or to apply it so sparingly that the eye may find the repose so essential for appreciation and enjoyment. A mass of gilding on ceilings, walls, and woodwork often has, in an apartment illumined by artificial light, an effect painful rather than pleasing, all being garish glitter rather than the calm and dignified harmony resulting from embellishment by a decorator of cultivated taste.
161. Where, for instance, the ornament on a door panel would be lost in the effulgence of a profusely decorated molding, gild only the narrow fillet next the panel, painting the body or carved portion of the molding in some harmonious tint. Waste of gold leaf is thus prevented, to say nothing at all of the greater facility with which oil size can be run upon the narrow flat by an expert pencil hand, holding lightly between the thumb and forefinger (Fig. 57) a striping brush, such as shown in Fig. 58. If, on the other hand, the molding of the door panel be exceptionally broad, and it be desirable to break the solidity of its appearance, cut on a stencil paper some simple ornament, such as a succession of triangular notches, the dog's tooth, or any running ornament of not too complex a character. Its rendering in gold on the molding, although the time taken be somewhat in excess of that needed to gild the whole member, will yield an artistic effect, in the precise direction intended. No saving of gold will, indeed, be effected, for the gilder must, of necessity, cut his leaves into sections, each the actual width of the molding. But the surplus gold leaf, removed in the usual manner, first by the dabber, and finally with cotton wool, will add to the value and quantity of skewings, as the surplus gold leaf is called, and in some measure compensate for the additional labor.