Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Keum boo techniques

Hello all, I just purchased my first piece of Keum boo foil . I
live in Cleveland and since there are never any workshops or
instruction in this area I am going to try it on my own. I have
read the various posts from Orchid and gone through the archives,
but I am still a little confused about exactly how to go about it.
I am going to try to complete the piece before applying the gold. I
have read somewhere that it is good to depletion guild the surface
of the sterling to bring it up to fine silver and have it as clean
as possible for good adherance of the gold. Some questions I have
are - should I have all findings, posts, etc. already attached
beforehand.(assuming I would have to drill into a piece of brass to
place over my hotplate for the posts??) How about buffing,
firescale removal. I would assume all of that would have to be done
beforehand. However, I read somewhere that people actually apply
the gold and then continue to construct the piece and I wonder how
you can clean, buff etc. after the gold is attached without removal
or damage.

At the risk of asking for repetitive I would love some
pointers and they can be sent off the list to me at

Thanks, Grace in Cleveland where there are never any workshops and
a desperate need of them!

Grace, Charles Lewton-Brain has a good article on keum-boo in the
Orchid archivesand there’s a good article in the book Metals Technic
by Komelia Okim. Also, the August '03 Lapidary Journal has an
article on keum-boo with precious metal clay (no need to depletion
gild there because it’s already close to 100% silver; if you are
working with sterling silver you definitely have to depletion gild to
get a thin skim of finesilver on the metal. Otherwise the foil won’t
attach properly).

I try to finish all my fabrication and soldering and make applying
the foil the very last step, if at all possible (except for oxidizing
the silver with liver of sulfur). If you can do that it’s definitely
preferable. I have had good luck with soldering afterward, but it is
amazing how soldering can make foil that seemed to be perfectly
attached suddenly bubble up. If you don’t re-burnish it you’re in
trouble. As far as buffing goes, so far I feel that keum-boo looks
best on a piece of metal that’s textured, so I don’t apply it to
highly polished metal. You might give it a try – experiment with
buffing before and after. A little careful buffing shouldn’t remove
the foil.

Your idea about using a drilled piece of brass is good. A few weeks
ago I spent a couple of hours poking through Urban Ore in Berkeley to
find a piece of iron or brass with a hole already drilled into it to
put on top of the iron griddle I put on top of my hot plate, so I
could apply the foil to earrings that already had the posts soldered
on. (It works for flat earrings. But I really need to find a domed
piece of metal that I can drill into, for domed earrings. Domed
stakes and punches are too hard to be drilled into, I think, so if
anyone has any suggestions I would grateful).

You should have everything done except for the stone setting! If you
are using leaf instead of foil, it will disappear at soldering
temperatures and alloy with the silver. Yes, bring up a fine silver
layer. If you have foil, I would be interested in where you found it.

Marilyn Smith

From the article by Charles Lewton-Brain:

The gold will not stick until the correct temperature is
reached....I usually have a small cup of water handy and
repeatedly quench the burnisher to cool it while working.  

Is the burnisher affected by using it for keum-boo?


Marilyn, I’ve gotten good keum boo foil (24K, 4" x 4" sq) at
Metalliferous in NYC ( Also understand that
Allcraft in NYC carries it.

Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

Mona mentioned the chapter in Metals Technic. I offer some details:

Metals Technic: A Collection of Techniques for Metalsmiths Ed. Tim
McCreight, Pub: Brynmorgen Press (December 1992) ASIN: 0961598433
"Kum-Boo: 24k Overlay on Silver", by Komelia Hongja Okim, pp. 101-5

Trevor F.

Janet, You’re not getting anywhere near annealing temp on the
burnisher, so it shouldn’t be affected. The reason for quenching it
is to keep it significantly cooler than the silver and the gold
foil, so that the foil will adhere to the silver, not the burnisher
as it reaches that (relatively low) fusing temp.

So, no, the burnisher should not be adversely affected by using it
for keum boo.

Have fun,
Karen Goeller
kgoeller at nolimitations dot com

    ... I've gotten good keum boo foil (24K, 4" x 4" sq) at
Metalliferous in NYC (  Also understand
that Allcraft in NYC carries it. 

Just out of curiosity how thick is this Kum-Boo foil? I ask because
I’m interested in trying this technique … and I’ve made pretty
respectable fine Silver foil with my rolling mill. I’m thinking
that if it’s about .004" or thicker then one could probably roll out
24k foil oneself. Is there something I’m not realizing here?

Trevor F.

Hello Marilyn, thanks for your response to my inquiry about keum
boo. I have gotten many good tips. I found the gold foil for sale
at Allcraft (NY) (800) 645-7124 but have also been told you can get
it through Metalliferrous (NY). I don’t have their number handy
because I don’t like dealing with them too much (snotty owner), but
you can look them up on the computer if you choose.

Quick question. You said to have the piece completed. What do you
do with earrings as far as the posts are concerned and how do you set
them up to be keum booed?? G.S.

Also understand that Allcraft in NYC carries it. 

I bought this, and I have to say that for the price, I was not too
impressed. it was like $50 for a 4 x 4 sheet, not that much thicker
than the foil you use for enameling or in beadmaking. I think it’s
best if you roll it out yourself. I Anne Stickney

I set thing directly on the coils of the electric hot plate and the
ear posts easily fit between coils. It takes some experimentation to
find the correct heat setting and how to balance the items on the
coils. This is a place where thin close fitting gloves can be used
but if you stay alert, bare hands are safe, The items can be placed
on the coils with tweezers or pliers.

Marilyn Smith

I paid $22 at Metalliferous for a 4" x 4" square in 24K, and the
foil is the thicker foil (not leaf). I don’t do enameling or
bead-making, so I can’t compare to that. It’s not as thick as
aluminum foil, but significantly thicker than gold leaf. Does that
help :-).

Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

Marilyn, This sounds like a recipe for electrocution. A piece of
metal that is thick enough to drill so the earring is flat on it
and does not touch the coils would be better. Would definitely be
faster.Richard in Denver

I'm thinking that if it's about .004" or thicker then one could
probably roll out 24k foil oneself.  Is there something I'm not
realizing here? 

Hi, Trevor, You certainly can rollout your own. If your mill doesn’t
bring it down thin enough, place the thinned out sheet between two
pieces of oxidized copper sheets (so it doesn’t stick to the copper)
and continue to roll. I have also made gold alloys with only silver
or palladium, rolled these out and bonded these to the base of
sterling. This gives one an opportunity to “play” with color
variations of the appliqued metal. Just keep copper out of the
alloy. Keum Boo doesn’t only work with 24K. Have fun, Joe Dule

A piece of metal that is thick enough to drill so the earring is
flat on it and does not touch the coils would be better.

I have a 6"x6"x1/4" stainless steel plate with a 1/4" x 21/2"
rectangle cut out of it 2 inches from the edge that goes over my
hotplate. The long, narrow slot allows for all types of pin findings
and earring posts and lets the piece be in good contact with the
plate for keum boo. I keep a wood stove thermometer on the plate to
check temp.

Donna in VA

        You certainly can rollout your own. If your mill doesn't
bring it down thin enough, place the thinned out sheet between two
pieces of oxidized copper sheets .... 

Thanks for the tip on oxidizing the copper sheets. I’d tried the
copper sheet trick before and thought who ever had recommended it
had a screw loose 'cause the 24k stuck like glue to my copper sheets
which, of course, I’d made a point of cleaning as thoroughly as I
could. But they sure were pretty when I was done and I’d managed
to dispose of that pesky 24k.

Re: rolling your own Kum Boo foil: The reference I have (in Metals
Technic) indicates using foil in the .001-2" range which I’ve found
rather prone to stretching and tearing. Now that I have a rolling
mill I’d like to try the whole thing again but am wondering how thin
is “thin enough”?

Trevor F.