Apply silicone to the target, completely. Dont worry about excess or trying to shape it. Just be sure it fills every void u want it too. Using a common squirt bottle with adjustable spray tip, spray the denatured alcohol over everything, the more the better. Be sure it is on all adjacent surfaces and pooling along the silicone. Wet your fingers with it too. Now just finger the joint to cut the silicone to a beautiful, smooth bead, wiping the piles of excess off your finger onto a paper towel. Spray again after the first wipe to keep a film of alcohol on the silicone.
The silicone will not stick to you, or the adjacent surfaces and excess overfill will come off to give a perfect bead.
No fuss, no mess, FAST and CLEAN!
The only caution is that alcohol will dissolve many paints, so against a painted wall, u gotta move fast. I dont know how it reacts with engine paint.
George, your tongue will have a helluva reaction with this kind of alcohol, and your stomach too if it gets that far
When I do those gaskets I prefer to only silicone the valve cover side. The head surface is machined and cannot warp but the valve cover can bend or flex & ruin a good seal. In my past experience just attending to the valve cover sealing with silicone results in a valve cover that doesn't leak but can be easily removed, no fuss or bother. That's important on the solid lifter engines to allow periodic valve adjustments.