Islamic bindings – making gold paint

This is in preparation for the second set of instructions for Islamic bindings, which is coming in a couple of days. The gold paint is to decorate the cover, but needs some time to prepare so should be prepared prior to the completion of the book.

Gold paint is made using a curved edge dish or a plate without a rim, as the gold is worked right out to the edges.

  • First drip two drops of gum arabic into the centre of the plate and add one gold leaf, then mix it together with a finger, in circular motions around the centre of the dish.
  • When it gets impossible to keep rubbing with fingers, add another drop of gum arabic and mix again until the leaf is completely broken down.
  • When it is hardest to mix gold, this is when it is being ground.
  • Keep adding gold leaf and gum arabic in this way until up to 5/6 leaves have been added, it will gradually work its way out to the edges of the dish
  • Every so often the mix should be tested with a drop of water – if when dropped, the gold is lifted up to the top of the water, it is going well.
  • To finish off, add water and draw all the gold into the water, this may be around a cupful to cover the dish, less if it is a plate.
  • Transfer this into another smaller vessel that the gold can be permanently kept in.
  • Leave this vessel on a window sill and allow the water to evaporate.

When it comes to painting with the gold, the surface of the book should first be brushed with a layer of gum arabic, and then burnished. A couple of drops of water will loosen up a little of the dried gold, which can then be painted directly onto the prepared surface.

Gold Leaf Paint
Rubbing in the Gold Leaf

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