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
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