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…