Preparing Shell Gold

Here is a post I recently guest-authored for the Book and Paper Gathering, an independent blog resource for the book and paper conservation community.

The Book & Paper Gathering

A guest post by Anita Chowdry

My last few workshops on shell gold have been particularly rewarding as my participants have all been up for doing a little extra research and experimentation, which has had the effect of pushing forward my experience as well as theirs. Most participants are motivated to attend because of their frustration with using pre-prepared shell gold, which is invariably too coarsely ground to be useful for detailed work or calligraphy.

storks macro Particles of gold just visible in this close-up detail of a painting

The process that I teach is based on my experiences with an Indian gold-master in Jaipur. Mr. Patel’s workmen hand-beat 24 carat gold foil into very fine gold leaf. Working their mallets all day, they fill the neighbourhood with the music of their hammering. In the early 1990s, Mr Patel would personally grind this leaf into pigment of the finest division, such as…

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