How to Make Gold Leaf

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Gold leaf is used like paint to cover objects in a thin film of real gold. Gold leaf is extremely thin. Foil that it is one thousandth of an inch thick is still about 500 times thicker than gold leaf. Here are the steps needed to make your own gold leaf.

  • Start with gold foil, cut into pieces 4 1/2 inches square. Sandwich each square between two sheets of rice paper, and then make a stack of 200 to put inside of a small leather bag.

  • Use a 6 lb. hammer in each hand and pound the bag filled with gold foil and rice paper for about 30 minutes.

  • Cut each piece of golf foil into 6 more pieces, placing each new piece between sheets of rice paper. Make a new stack of 200, and place inside the leather bag again for another 30 minutes of pounding with the hammers.

  • Place the gold foil between larger sheets of bamboo paper about 6 inches square. In this final stage, pound the new stack of 200 for about 5 hours. It's a good idea to take a 1 minute break after every 3 minutes of pounding.

  • Cut into 2 inch squares and put between sheets of straw paper for storing. After all the pounding, the sheets are only about four to five millionths of an inch thick, so extreme care must be used in moving them between sheets of paper.

  • Move the gold leaf squares with a gilders' tip, which is a brush made of fine red-squirrel hair. The brush uses static electricity to grab the gold leaf. Do not touch the gold leaf with your fingers, or you'll have a gold finger as it wraps itself around your digit.

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