Magnificence of gold: facts on gold leaf
Gold is a rather soft and ductile material, it can be flattened in thin sheets without any cracks or holes.
Gold leaf represents gold sheets, which are used in arts and crafts. When the surface is covered with these sheets, it seems that the whole object is made of the precious metal.
For the first time, the gold leaf technique was applied in China 1700 years ago.
Technique of the gold leaf manufacturing:
1) gold bar 20 cm long, 5 cm wide and 1 cm high shall be cast;
2) the bar shall be flattened into a thin strip;
3) the strip shall be cut into squares, then each of them is placed between the sheets of the translucent paper;
4) the pile of gold squares layered with paper are stacked up in 100-300 pieces;
5) the pile shall be placed under the heavy hammer, which hits it 2 thousand times with the certain load until each square has flattened out to the thickness of 0,0001 cm;
6) a square shall be cut off from the flat gold cake and is put in the paper album, which may contain from 10 to 300 sheets of gold leaf.
In the photo: sheets of gold leaf are manufactured in the form of a book and sold in the jewellery stores and specialized shops intended for the artists and designers.
Three methods of hitting the yellow metal
1.By using the manual labour: the hammerer hits the pile of gold squares with a heavy hammer. It is impossible to obtain gold sheets of the same thickness by using this method.
2. Mechanical hammer shall be used to hit the pile with the equal force. The pile of gold squares underneath the hammer is shifted manually.
3. Hammering shall be executed mechanically, the pile of gold is shifted by the robot. The gold leaf of the highest quality is produced in Italian and German factories.
Application of gold leaf
● For gilding large-scale architectural facilities and sculptures: church domes, statues, monuments.
● As decorations for gilding exterior structures of the buildings and items of the inner decor: gold-plating of the columns, stucco work, balcony grids, staircases, furniture, ceilings.
In the photo: gilded ceiling of the Senate Chamber in the Parliament of Canada.
● In the icon painting for drawing fine gold strokes on the images.
● In the framing workshops for the manufacturing of gilded frames for the paintings and mirrors.
● Modern designers often use golden leaf for the decoration of garments, and make-up artists use it for creating an extravagant make-up.
● Body wrappings and face masks on the base of gold leaf are very popular in the beauty industry.
● Precious desserts, sweets and cakes are often covered with gold leaf, gold particles can be added to various drinks.
In the photo: gold leaf is a new trend in the cake decoration.
● The usage of gold leaf is the only highly practical and durable method for gold covering of the various objects and surfaces.
● Due to the complexity of the gold leaf manufacturing process, as well as the high price of the precious metal, usage of brass leaf – tapes made of the different metal alloys are very common. Chemical compounds of tin, alloys of zinc and copper, silver and aluminum have lustrous yellow colour and externally imitate gold. Unlike gold leaf, brass leaf can get oxidized and it darkens over time.
● Working with gold leaf is not easy since thin sheets are readily torn to shreds. Special tools and a certain level of craftsmanship are required to execute this work.
In the photo: the process of covering of the wooden stucco with gold.
● Covering the dishes with gold increases their price, gives them a refined and exotic look, but does not affect the gustatory qualities. Edible gold does not have smell or taste. Food covered with gold is safe for the digestion and has no impact on the activity of the internal organs. Consumption of the edible gold leaf is considered to enhance human vigour.