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Placing small bits of gold for Keum Boo

I have had a fiendishly difficult time placing small bits of
gossamer-light gold foil on the silver base piece in very specific
locations. The gold is very difficult to handle and when placing
several pieces it is easy to displace one piece while placing and/or
burnishing another piece. I was wondering if something could be used
to hold down the various pieces, so they can be placed all at once
and then burnished all at once. I know some use water or even saliva.
Does that work? I would think that the water would quickly evaporate.
Is there anything else that will work better?

Hello Todd,

I recently purchased Christine Deihn’s video’s and she suggests one
part Klear Fire to 6 parts water. I’ve been using it and it works
quite well for me. She suggests painting it on the back of the piece
of foil and then placing. It seems to grab better. Then you let it
dry so no bubbles appear and then you heat and burnish as usual. I
ordered the video from Revere. She is a teacher there.

Good Luck!

Hi Todd,

I do a lot of Keum Boo with both tiny pieces and large of gold foil.
I have found that one of the best tools for heating your silver is
the Ultralite Kiln with copper inserts (available at JEC Products
manufactures the Ultralite). This is not an expensive tool, and is
extremely useful for annealing metals, enameling, granulation, and
much more. Once the silver reaches the proper temperature the gold
foil will “tack” to the silver and then you can easily burnish it
down. Once the gold tacks to the silver, it will not move and is a
much better bond than any glue can give you.

Another factor is make sure you are using true gold foil and not
lightweight “leaf” or anything close to that weight. Allcraft sells
both traditional thickness gold foil and double thickness which is a
beautiful foil that gives the look of bimetal when fused to fine

I have used saliva for a quick set of the foil, but find all of these
"gluing" solutions totally unnecessary and using them introduces yet
another problem to overcome.

Here’s exactly how I apply the foil to the silver using the
Ultralight. I place the red copper insert over the element of the
Ultralight, like a tight fitting lid (these are designed for Keum
Boo). Then place your silver on top of the copper insert. I then plug
in the Ultralight with the opening away from where I will be sitting.
You can use the available extension cord that lowers the heat of the
Ultralight to only heat to just above 800 F, but I have found that
unless you are going to be doing many pieces, this is not necessary.
Just plug in the device and let it heat up.

Test the temperature of the copper insert by rubbing a wooden skewer
on it. Once the wood chars, the temperature is right. Your silver
should also be at the right temperature. Using one locking bent tip
tweezer, hold the fine silver piece down on the heat source (with the
left hand - or right if you are left-handed), and use a very fine
jeweler’s tweezer (not locking) (in the dominant hand) to gently,
slowly and methodically place the piece of foil down on the fine
silver. Hold it there until the gold tacks to the silver. Then lay
down the tweezers and burnish with an agate or pyrex burnisher from
the center of the gold foil outwards towards the edges. Once I have
firmly burnished from the center outwards, I spend some time intently
burnishing the edges to make sure the gold edges fuse properly by
having come into complete contact with the heated silver. If you are
placing more pieces of gold foil on this same piece, follow this same
routine, (minus the heating which is already done) to place each
piece. You will be surprised at how quickly it goes when you have a
routine established.

Have all your tools right there and within easy reach, so you can
focus all your attention on the gold and burnishing. I keep all my
Keum Boo tools together in a zip lock bag, so when I get ready to
Boo, I just pull out the plastic bag with the tools, lie them to the
left and right of the Ultralite, and quickly get down to business.

I find taking advantage of the simple and reliable principles of
chemistry that are the foundation of heating and fusing metals works
so incredibly well and much better than any invention to glue the
down that I wouldn’t even think of using a glue. The key is having
the proper hand and heating tools and maintaining your silver at the
proper temperature. Then it is easy and so rewarding.

Hope this is helpful.


Laura H. Hastings
Eclectica Jewelry
Tucson, Arizona

Hi Laura and all orchidians,

I haven’t made Keum Boo yet because at this time gold is prohibitive
to me, so I was suspecting if I can make Keum Boo with fine silver to
sterling, copper or bronze? What thickness would I need to make the
foil for better results?

Thank in advance by shearing your knowledge.


Hola Aurelio,

You can make foil with fine silver, but it is only fuseable to either
gold (24KT) or fine (pure) silver. The foil would have to be fine
silver as well. The fusion happens between these two metals because
they are resistant to oxidation and fire scale (they are called
"noble" metals for this reason). Copper and other metals, or alloys
with copper, like sterling silver, will form firescale and cannot
bond to your foil.

Even if you are thinking of using gold foil for Keum Boo, it must be
fused to fine (pure) silver. You can depletion gild sterling, which
will bring up a surface of fine silver which will fuse to the gold.

Some vendors sell small pieces of gold foil at a price that is not
that prohibitive. If you would like to try Keum Boo, you probably
could do so at not such a great price actually.

Just remember you need to use the pure form of both the silver and
the gold.

All the best,

I was suspecting if I can make Keum Boo with fine silver to
sterling, copper or bronze? 

Sadly, this technique will not work with any metal that oxidizes–
so you are pretty much limited to fine silver and fine gold. Can’t
say whether it would work with palladium-- anyone?


Laura and Noel:

Thank you about shearing your knowledge and have other question
about the same topic. If I plate a brass or copper item with fine
silver, then can I make Keum Boo with gold foil in the plated

Thanks in advance, and my best whishes for you.


If I plate a brass or copper item with fine silver, then can I make
Keum Boo with gold foil in the plated surface? 

I haven’t done it, but I don’t see why not, as long as the fine
silver is thick enough that heating will not cause oxidation to come
through. Plating in areas, then adding kum boo would seem to offer
some interesting design potential!