How Is Gold Leaf Made?

In Burma it takes the gold pounders 5 hours of pounding to flatten a chip of gold weighing a little over a hundreth of a gram into a sheet of gold leaf.

The gold is placed between two pieces of bamboo paper, one waxed and the other unwaxed. There are 1,500 pages to a leather packet, holding 750 chips of gold.

Each man slowly lifts his mallet overhead and lets it fall. The iron mallets strike the thick leather packets braced on worn stones. The rhythm is slow and steady with every stroke evenly matched.

Near the pounders bare feet is a clay bowl of water with a half submerged coconut shell cup. There's a stone and a small hole in the cup which is sinking slowly. It is a coconut clock. The shell sinks and a helper resets the water timer. The coconut sinks in exactly 3 minutes. There are exactly 120 strokes to these 3 minutes. After each coconut the men rest one or two minutes and then continues. After three coconut cups they turn the gold-leaf packet over. Eighteen coconuts make one pounding hour.

Selected Works

The following are links to artists using goldleaf as the medium of choice:

> Back to Artist Gallery