Two Tone Gilding

Chalk or pounce the layout as usual. Then lay the XX Deep gold with water size and back-up in outline only. Clean off superfluous gold with cotton saturated with whiting and water. Fill in the centers of the lettering with a mixture of quick rubbing varnish and turpentine. If applied thin, it will tack up quickly. Now gild the centers with either Lemon or Pale gold, direct from the book as in surface gilding, by laying the gold right into the tacky varnish center. The lettering may now be outlined or shaded with color if desired.

However, many high-class jobs are plain two-tone letters with no outline or shade. Where you use no outline or shade, it is best to paint the back of letters with aluminum or bronze mixed with varnish. When dry, varnish the whole job carefully with a good outside spar or coach finishing varnish. Instead of Lemon or Pale gold for the centers, many sign men prefer to use XX Deep gold. The varnish will prevent XX Deep gold from burnishing while the outline will have its usual brilliant burnish. Imitation

Embossing or Mat Gold Finish

This is one of the most striking effects that can be obtained but it takes somewhat longer to do. You pounce the layout in the usual manner, gild the job and burnish it. You back-up only in outline all parts of the lettering, scrolls or designs that are to be embossed. When backing is dry, remove superfluous gold by cleaning in the usual manner. This leaves the parts to be embossed clear glass. Fill in the centers with Damar varnish to which a few drops of quick rubbing varnish have been added.

Because Damar varnish sets very quickly, but never dries very hard, the addition of quick rubbing varnish helps to make the Damar dry hard at the same time keeps your backing-up color from cracking. As soon as the varnish shows a strong tack it is ready for stippling. Stipple with the stub of a bristle brush or with a stippling brush. The brush may be held at an exact right angle to the varnished surface. Continue this stippling until varnish shows the desired embossed effect.

When the varnish is dry (and that will take quite some time because of the slow drying qualities of Damar), water size, regild and finish as usual. For this second gilding you can use XX Deep gold, but Lemon or Pale gold will heighten the embossed effect. Do not use a quick drying color for backing-up where Damar has been used, as a quick drying color or may have a tendency to crack the lettering.

Pock Marking

Another method used to get a rough or pockmarked center is to brush the cleaned off centers with Damar varnish to which a little quick rubbing varnish has been added. Then spray water over the varnish from an atomizer. The water will bead and will give the varnish a rough, pockmarked effect. When gilded with Pale gold, the centers will have a very striking appearance.

Macaroni Scroll

This very popular center is made by mixing ten parts of Damar varnish with one part Balsam or Fir, three parts quick rubbing varnish and a pinch of powdered pumice. Fill in the clear centers with this mixture. When this varnish reaches a strong tack, take a small wooden wedge or the pointed end of a lettering brush handle and scratch scrolls or fern like designs in the varnish. When the varnish is thoroughly dry, water size and gild with Lemon or Pale gold. Back-up and finish the job in the usual manner.

Spiraled or Spun Centers XX Deep gold is laid and backed-up in outline only. You fill in the centers with slow oil size to which a little varnish has been added. Allow the job to stand overnight or for several hours. Then gild from the book as in surface gilding, using Pale or Lemon gold.

After rubbing down the gold very lightly with cotton, take a small piece of velvet or chamois and with it form a ball between the fingers. Bear down against the back of the gold with a light pressure and twist the chamois or velvet around in a rotary motion. Go all over the centers in this manner. (But do not press or twist too hard. Begin lightly until you acquire the knack of handling.) The job is then backed-up and varnished in the usual way.

Blended Gold and Silver

Gold leaf is applied to the glass in the ordinary manner, except that only the upper half or three quarters of the letter is gilded. Patch and burnish the gold as usual. To accomplish the blending use a flat brush that has been cut down about a one-quarter inch bristle. Draw brush across the letters, beginning at the bottom and continuing up to about three quarters the height of the letter. This will scratch the gold.

The lower portion of the gold should be almost entirely removed. Reduce the pressure of the brush as you go up to take off less and less of the gold, until you blend into the solid gold near the top of the letter. The object of this scratching is to give you an opportunity to unite the gold and silver with an imperceptible joint. You now lay silver leaf over the lower portion of the letter and overlap all parts of the gold that have been scratched. You then back-up and varnish the job in the usual manner.


For glazing gold lettering use only transparent colors. Glazing colors should be mixed only with high-grade, light japan and thinned until colors are quite faint and indistinct. Apply glaze with a camel hair brush, and when the glaze is thoroughly dry, gild with water size in the usual manner.


It is of utmost importance that the plaster be thoroughly seasoned, dry, hard and free from alkali. It should then be first coated with a standard make of pigmented wall primer and sealer. When this coat is dry, slow drying oil gold size may be applied and the leaf laid when the gold size has reached the proper tack.

Special Effects In Gliding

We have had a great many requests for information as to how various striking and unusual effects can be obtained in gold leaf work. The following effects were those asked for most frequently. To avoid repetition, it is assumed that the reader is already familiar with the method of gilding ordinary signs: the following descriptions, therefore, deal only with variations and additions to usual methods by which the effects may be obtained.

Engine Turning

Engine-turning or "swirling" is particularly effective when a protective coat is used. All transparent coatings detract somewhat from the lustrous surface of the leaf; and a reflecting value, on part of each letter on a whole line of lettering, may be obtained by disturbing the flat surface of the leafed portion in regular design. This is accomplished through the use of velvet plush padded to the desired bulk with cotton. When the surplus gold has been skewed from the surface immediately after being laid, the plush pad is held against the leaf and turned with a twist of the wrist.

Successive twists should overlap, and twists in successive lines should be staggered. Designs and novel effects can be produced by masking out portions of letters with paper, using the plush pads in straight strokes on the unmasked portion. Proceed with various angles as in cross hatching. Try this as well on contrast mat center glass work. Apply the leaf to the tacky dead center varnish and proceed as if you were working on gold size. The effect will show up through the glass and varnish from the reading side.

Gold Leaf Face Shading

This is a very striking and rich effect and has the added merit of being easily and quickly obtained. Just before laying the gold leaf, lay in the shading you desire with a small pencil and clear, quick-drying varnish. The shading may consist of elaborate scrolls, lines, or other patterns. Add a little burnt umber to the varnish so that you can see what you are doing.. Or you can avoid this by pouncing lightly with whiting. When the varnish is dry, lay the gold leaf as usual and burnish it. The parts covered with the varnish will remain mat, thus giving you the shading you desire.

Cleaning Raised Wood Gilded Letters

Use nothing stronger than mild soap suds. Apply the soapy water with a soft sponge and do not rub so hard as to injure the surface of the leaf. Be sure and rinse with clear water before the soapy water has had a chance to dry. Strong solutions must be avoided as any damage to the undercoat will kill the brilliance of the leaf. If the soap and water treatment does not give satisfactory results it is time to regild.