My parents were antique dealers and restorers for many years, so at a young age I learned to cast a mold of just about anything, how to redo a piece of furniture and how to Gold/silver Leaf anything!
The first direction is "Patience"! without it your project will not come out as you hoped.... I use Gold Leaf from Italy, it is the best, but as a first timer you can purchase leaf in any art supply store, even Joann's and Michaels carry leaf.
First you size the entire piece, you can also purchase that at the art supply store, with a good brush, the piece will be very sticky. Wait about an hour or so then lightly place the sheet of leaf on, with a soft brush, dab at the leaf, don't worry about the pieces that fall you will use them! keep applying sheets, overlapping slightly, until the piece is covered. Use the small chards that fall to fill in in nooks and granny's...until the entire piece is to your liking. Wipe gently with a very soft rag, until all leaf has adhered and no chards are falling.
I wait at least 24 hrs. then Shellac the piece. This seals it. Allow that to dry for another day. then I antique it with a stain of your choice. I like my pieces to have a dark color to it. It makes the leaf pop. so I went with a dark stain. Plain stain. The Alcohol is for cleaning your brushes....You can leaf any surface, so if you have an old lamp that you love but hate the finish - leaf it! And gold leaf will last for decades.....