What is Keum Boo?
What is Keum Boo?
In recent weeks, I've been exploring the beautiful jewellery making technique of Keum Boo. Literally meaning "applied gold", Keum Boo is an Ancient Korean gilding technique used to fuse sheets of 24ct gold, to silver and a whole host of other metals including copper and steel.
As you can see from the piece below, it creates the most amazing and striking finish on jewellery....It's safe to say, I think this is one of my favourite techniques ever.
The piece above is one that I felt compelled to make at the end of 2020. It's inspired by the lines left in the sand on the beach when the tide recedes. The gold shines through the dark patina and reminds us that there is always light in the darkness....a true symbol of a year spent in a pandemic.
So how was it made?
The piece started off its life like this. I made a disc in fine silver, and attached a jump ring through a drilled hole, to allow the pendant to hang on a chain.
In order for the gold to adhere to the silver, it needs to be applied either to fine silver, or to sterling silver which has been through a process called depletion gilding. This is where the metal is repeatedly heated until pure fine silver comes to the surface of the metal.
In this instance though, I used a fine silver base for my pendant, which kept things quite simple!
So the first step was to make sure the silver was clean, and sanded with a really fine grit sandpaper - this helps the gold adhere to the silver.
Once all the prep is done, the fun really begins!
I began laying down strips of 24ct gold onto the piece. The two metals are fused together using nothing but heat and pressure. Working over a hot plate provides a heat source and then it's a case of waiting until there is enough heat, and using a burniser to push the gold down over the silver.
The pressure from the burniser combined with the heat forms an electron exchange between the surfaces of the two metals, and gives a permanent bond...It's pretty amazing!
The act of burnishing polishes the metal, which leaves a rather 'scratchy' look to the piece. These can be polished out easily, or sanded back with fine grit sandpaper for a Matte finish....
I adore the high contrast between the metals... And the vividness of the 24ct gold!
I think we'll be seeing some more Keum Boo here at Gemma Tremayne Jewellery soon...
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