Wood, leather, paper, and similar substances, are gilt by fastening on leaves of gold by means of some cement. The necessary materials are a cushion, knife, and tip, a large, short and thick camel-hair brush, cotton-wool, and oil and japanners size. Gold leaf is sold in books of 25 leaves, each about 3 in. square. It is reckoned by the hundred, that is, the contents of four books, and gilders calculate a work to require so many hundreds, not so many books. There are 13 varieties of tint, ranging from a deep orange-red down to a white approximating silver. The cushion is a piece of wood about 8 in. by 5, covered first with baize, and then with buff leather tightly stretched. At one end there is a raised edge or screen of parchment, which turns partly round the sides. This is to prevent the leaves being blown away by any chance wind. Underneath, the cushion has two, and sometimes three small loops of leather, one for inserting the thumb to hold it by, the others for sticking the knife and camel-hair brush in. The knife for cutting the gold leaf has a long flexible blade, which should not be too sharp, set in a light handle like' a palette knife. The knife must be always kept clean and bright. The tip is a large flat brush for taking up and placing the gold leaf.
It is made of very long squirrel • hair, set thinly between the flat pieces of card. Cottonwool and the thick camel-hair brush are used for dabbing down the gold and removing superfluous pieces. There are two kinds of gold size, fat oil and japanners' size. The former is the more durable and brilliant, so that japanners' size should never be employed except for mending small places and imperfections, or where time is of great importance. The gold from which gold leaf is made must be very pure; it is hammered out, after it has been rolled as thin as paper, by being put between the leaves of a book of parchment and extremely thin skins, called goldbeaters' skin; the book is then laid upon a block of marble, and beaten with a heavy hammer. When the leaves of gold are extended to the full size of the book, they are divided, and each portion is placed between the leaves of another book, which is hammered as before. This process is continued till the requisite thinness is acquired. Pale leaf gold has a greenish-yellow colour, and is an alloy of gold with silver. Dutch gold is copper leaf coloured yellow by the fumes of zinc.
It is much cheaper than true gold leaf, and is very useful where large quantities of gilding are wanted in places where it can be defended from the weather, by being covered with varnish; it changes colour if exposed to moisture. Silver leaf is prepared in the same manner as that of gold, but is liable to tarnish, except it is well secured by varnish. I covered with a transparent yellow varnish, it has much the appearance of gold.