Playing with paper #3: paint and metal

The final stretch, then….

I tried to revive the dried-out little tablet of bole from my gilding kit, but it’s past hope, as is the size and sealer. I got it second hand, years ago, and it was already a few years old then. In case you’re wondering, bole is a sort of clay pigment you add to water and glue to make a coloured foundation onto which you apply your gold leaf. The terracotta colour of the bole enriches and intensifies the colour of the gold laid over it, as well as producing a flat, matt surface for the gold leaf. So, being impatient, unwilling to buy more bole and keen to use what I have, I’ve made my own equivalent with acrylic paint. It won’t be as good, but the colour will help even if the surface isn’t perfect.

I used Reeves® acrylic colours, equal quantities of burnt umber, crimson, brilliant red and flesh, which has produced a nice oxblood red. I wanted a darker shade than the classic bole terracotta because instead of gold leaf, I’m using copper, of which I have a far larger quantity. I bought it for a project over 10 years ago which never happened, and it’s perfect for this purpose. Knowing perfectly well that I won’t get an immaculately flat surface on the inside of the bowl, I’m going for a bumpy, worn and slightly more rustic look (might as well make a virtue of necessity, eh?).

I had to wait till the paint was perfectly dry before applying the school glue (again, an improvisation, but internet research seemed to show that it’s an acceptable hack). I quickly found that rather than waiting till the glue is just slightly tacky as suggested, I had to work very quickly and place the larger pieces over a thin coating while the glue was wet. I could then patch over missing or damaged areas using a small brush for the glue and cutting the foil into smaller pieces just slightly larger than the glued area.

The copper leaf comes in books, on backing sheets, so it’s easy enough to pick up and lay down, but you do need to press it gently into all the bumps, cracks and crevices. This is where the soft makeup brushes come in; if you use a harder bristle you run the risk of damaging the delicate foil. Once it’s all down and dry, you rub it very, very gently with the brush in a swirling motion to rub off any loose bits.

I’ve bound the edge with leftover bias binding, and am going to seal the whole thing with Mod Podge® (yes, I found that too), but for the purpose of posting that’ll be invisible and it takes a long time to dry between coats, so I leave you with the unsealed bowl as a final shot.

I must say, I’m slightly tempted to add a narrow black ribbon to conceal the edge of the pink binding. The only problem is, I’d have to buy it. What do you think? I just find the pink a bit, well, meh… Speak now, before I seal it!

And that’s it for the first, but certainly not the last scrappy bowl…

55 thoughts on “Playing with paper #3: paint and metal

  1. I like the idea of the black ribbon to give the finish you want. The whole project is fantastic – very inspiring!

  2. claire93 says:

    looking good Kate!
    yes, pink looks a bit too everyday for this kind of bowl – hot pink or black would work though!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s funny, I tried black binding and it just deadened it. Hot pink I think would have the same problem as this sugar pink, it needs some sort of separation from a) the copper and b) all the other colour. So I’m thinking both!

  3. Absolutely yes to the black ribbon and it is looking wonderful! I like how you think outside the square and find substitutes when necessary too – you are very clever!!

    • katechiconi says:

      It looks as if most of you agree about the black ribbon. I *could* have gone out and bought everything, but I wanted to finish it sooner rather than later, and besides, I’m cheap, and this was a scrappy project 😉

  4. Emmely says:

    I also think black would look good!

  5. Yes to a bit of black, although it’s still beautiful as it is 🙂

  6. tialys says:

    Yes, I think you should splash out on a bit of narrow black ribbon – it will give a touch of elegance to your lovely bowl.

  7. nanacathy2 says:

    Wow, and yes to the black ribbon. Go on splash the cash!

  8. Oh a bit of shine was JUST what it needed to be perfect!

  9. Moira says:

    Looks great, but I agre with the others. Needs the black to finish it off. =)

  10. What a lovely unusual scrappy project… and not even a ‘ScrapHappy’ one.

  11. magpiesue says:

    I’d go for the ribbon. I think it will make for a perfect finish. 🙂

  12. This is fabulous. I’m also with those who voted yes for black ribbon.

  13. Yep, black ribbon. Fun project.

  14. What – no scrap of black ribbon at hand? Go for it anyway!

  15. Wow, Kate. You are into all sorts of creative endeavors. What a gorgeous bowl!

  16. I’m a bit late to the party but I vote on the black ribbon as well. the bowl is lovely and I’m sure you will put it to good use.

    • katechiconi says:

      I have the ribbon now, so I’ll be finishing it off this afternoon, followed by the coats of sealant. I like the idea of putting a tealight burner in the bowl, to reflect off the copper leaf.

  17. anne54 says:

    Stunning! I love the copper on the inside. You have probably made a decision about the ribbon, but I agree that it needs something. Maybe the pink strip is too wide? It looks good inside the bowl, but maybe a little narrower on the outside…… A thought for the next one.

    • katechiconi says:

      The pink strip is wide, but the ribbon I’ve just bought works well to punctuate between the copper and the pink. I do love the copper, it really glows, and contrasts beautifully with all the vivid colours.

  18. […] mixed bag to show today, having been pretty busy with scrapbusting this past month. As well as the fabric bowl you’ve seen very […]

  19. Now I see about the bowl. I’m not sure what it’s made from but I’m sure you said somewhere so I’ll look more. Catching up a bit or trying too. I love what you’ve done with it. If you think you need it, put the black in. Maybe you will find the piece in your travels. 😉 Thrift stores often have bags of scraps for those purposes.

    • katechiconi says:

      Marlene, the bowl is made from papier mâché, newspaper strips glued in many layers over a blown-up balloon. I covered the outside with fabric, and the inside with copper leaf. And now i’ve found the black ribbon I wanted to finish off the pink binding. All that’s left to do is seal it to protect the fabric and the foil.

      • Don’t think I’ve ever done paper mache. It’s just so cute. What will you do with it other than enjoy it’s beauty? 😉 I will ask my daughter today how to find the special marks that go above letters. They need to be found. ;(

      • katechiconi says:

        I will put tealights inside it to twinkle prettily against the copper foil. If I were a knitter, it would make a splendid yarn bowl… The Husband says if you go to the toolbar at the top, there’s one for Symbols and you can find them in there. He doesn’t know the keyboard shortcuts because he doesn’t ever use them! I am on a Mac, so it’s all different, and I only use the keyboard shortcuts because I use the accents all the time!

      • Thanks for the info and a twinkle light would be fun and peaceful.

  20. I think that’s splendid. When I was at college (bookbinding / paper conservation) one of our skills to learn was gold tooling. WE had some special size, but we also tested various recipes for making our own, should we be without. I seem to remember that PVA was a good substitute, as was something we did with egg white (I could look it up and I would if you needed me to, but by the time I read this, you’d finished, which is handy coz all my books and notes are in the loft!)

    • katechiconi says:

      I’d only be interested in the egg white option in a theoretical way; I live in a climate where insects need only the tiniest bit of provocation to eat everything in sight, and egg size would be just too tempting. I seem to remember too, that the original bole recipe included rabbitskin glue, which is monumentally stinky and not something you can lay your hands on in the average craft shop any more.

  21. Going Batty in Wales says:


  22. rutigt says:

    The bowl turned out very pretty! You almost made me wanting to do one (I´m not so much in papier maché otherwise).

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