Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keum Boo

Originally, I planned to take Thursday as an offsite day and wander away from Bead & Button to check out some galleries. The first day at registration I checked on Celie Fago's class that day, that I had debated with myself over. I didn't need an introductory level PMC class, but I admired her work, wanted to meet her, and it would have the advantage of the perfect set-up to learn keum boo. When there was only one place left, I decided fate thought I should do it. Thank goodness I did, because Thursday was a stormy day, not the right situation for walking shop to shop (especially since I forgot to pack an umbrella).

Keum boo is the ancient Korean art of applying gold foil to silver. When it's done with sterling, the copper part of the alloy must be removed at the surface to allow the gold to bond properly. That requires repeated heating and acid dipping to remove the copper. When keum boo is done with metal clay, it's much easier since PMC is fine silver -- 99.9% pure. The clay comes out of the kiln, the gold is cut or torn to the desired shape, and then the silver is heated on a hot plate or kiln surface to between 700 and 900 degrees. The gold is laid in place and burnished on with an agate or steel tool, and voila! Patina is added later to color the silver.

It was much easier to do than I thought it might be. I've left my piece rather blue and violet, while I decide whether to polish off the highlights.

I especially enjoyed the tear-away texture plates we used, and I'm working on making some of my own at home this week.