Paint the Sky with Golden Stars

A recent workshop with Ken Bova brought a few of us metalsmiths into an entirely new direction.  We learned how to make our own mineral pigments out of stones (raw or in bead form), how to formulate the medium needed for these pigments, and and how to gild our piece with 22K gold sheet prior to painting.  We also learned a little about narrative jewelry and cold connecting along the way.

We began with grinding up some "soft" stones, i.e., lapis, azurite, etc., in a mortar and pestle until it was as fine as we could make it.  Then we sifted it to remove the larger particles.

We then drew our design onto quality watercolor paper, and painted the gesso mixture (mordant containing Gesso, varnish and sugar water) onto the design wherever we wanted to place the gold.  Once the gesso was dry, we blew onto it through a straw to bring some warm moisture to the surface and then quickly placed the gold sheet down.  This is done over and over until the area is completely covered.  Once dry, we mixed the sifted pigment with the egg yolk mixture (egg yolk, wine, olifa oil and lavender oil) and began to add color to our piece.

22K Gold Sheet

Some of Ken's Pigments:  


Here is an example of what we were trying to accomplish (note - this is not mine, it's Deanna's).  First the gesso mixture was laid down wherever there was to be gold.  Then the gold was carefully applied.  Once dry, the paint was put into place.  Voila!  


Pam decided to gild and paint a colorful fish design.  It came out absolutely beautiful.



 Ken gave us plenty of time to work on our pieces and then also gave us a demonstration on how to make a "narrative" type of pendant using only cold connections.  Here are a couple of examples of his work:


 I like the idea of bringing a story into one's work...a feeling, memory, a marker of important times in one's life.  Ken has a chain that he has been working on for years.  Each piece attached to this chain represents something in his life that was important to him.  Here's a small section of his chain.  I can't wait to get started on my own.


We all had a great time in Ken's workshop!    He was thorough with his instructions and demonstrations, had plenty of handouts to reinforce everything we were learning, and was a complete joy to learn from.  We're all hoping he comes back soon.  Thanks, Ken!

Recommended books:  The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting by Daniel Thompson, The Bible of Illuminated Letters by Margaret Morgan


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