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Technique of Daniel Brush?

Is anyone familiar with the technique of Daniel Brush who combines
gold with steel. I am interested on how he actual “marries” the two
metals together in such an organic way. For those who are not
familiar with his work I recommend you browse through the book
Daniel Brush, Gold without Boundaries, by Donald Kuspi et al, it is
fantastic and very unique work!!!

Here’s an article about him:

Christine, half-asleep in Littleton, Massachusetts, US

I saw an exhibit of Daniel Brush’s work at the Renwick and also
purchased a book called Daniel Brush ( I think ). I don’t have
access to it at the moment, but he describes his technique. He use
chisels to fashion the steel and the steel has enough tooth to hold
the fine gold. The effect is luminous, seeing the work live.

  Is anyone familiar with the technique of Daniel Brush who
combines gold with steel.  I am interested on how he actual
"marries" the two metals together in such an organic way. 

Hi Steve, I met someone a while back who claimed to know how this
was done. He had been at the Renwick (I think it was) when Brush’s
work was on display there and had spent a lot of time talking to a
guard or docent who was present for a lecture by or about Daniel
Brush. (Sorry to be so tentative but this story was third hand to
begin with, plus my memory of the conversation is a little vague.)
Anyway, this guy explained the process as follows. I do NOT vouch
for its accuracy.

First, Brush drills thousands of tiny holes in the areas of the
steel which he wants covered with gold. Then he sinks thousands of
tiny gold wires into all those tiny holes so they are sticking up
just a bit. Finally he hammers the stubs of the gold wires to spread
out the gold until the gold from one hammered wire meets the gold
from its neighboring hammered wires. This technique, time-consuming
as it is, would certainly give you a lot of control. And, if you
take into account how many thousands of teeny, tiny granules Brush
uses in his granulation, this technique isn’t quite as ridiculous as
it sounds. Well, yes it is actually – but it puts it in perspective


Now don’t hold me responsible if this isn’t how Daniel Brush does
is, but this is a method that I have used to attach fine gold and
fine silver to steel. It was tought to me by Richard Mafong at
Georgia State University. Basically you make a small hardened steel
chisel. then you chisel the surface of the steel, holding the tool at
an angle. This creates tiny undercut grooves in the surface. Then you
go over it again, holding the tool at the same angle, but making the
grooves perpendicular to the first set of grooves. You go over it
four times, each time making the grooves perpendicular to the last
set. All of this chiselling creates a lot of little undercuts going
in different directions. Then you place your thin fine gold or fine
silver over the chiselled area. I have used 30ga wire and even
thinner sheet. I haven’t tried it with thicker sheet, but it may
work. Then you use either a short wooden dowel rod or, even better,
Delrin rod ( to hammer the gold or silver straight
down onto the tiny grooves. This pushes the gold into the undercuts
and locks it to the steel. Then you planish over the silver or gold
with a repousse planishing tool. This is very difficult to exlain in
writing. If it’s not clear enough, maybe I can photograph the tools
and steps and post links to the photos.

If this is not how Daniel Brush does it, then someone please tell
us, because his work is amazing Here’s one of the first (and only)
things I did with this technique. It’s a steel toothpick holder with
gold overlay. You can see the chisel marks in the second picture.
Keep in mind that this was one of the first pieces I did, so please
don’t judge it on design or creativity, etc.

Good luck

There was a “Studio Visit” with Daniel Brush featured in Metalsmith
in the Winter 2002 edition… contains some specifications that might
give you insight on how he creates the pieces:

  • Sheets of gold rolled three times thinner than cigarette paper

  • Gold granules .008 of an inch in diameter, applied withe a
    one-haired brush

  • Metal drilled to a hundredth-of-an-inch precision

  • 40x (yes, that’s FORTY) power surgical binoculars

Not a technique that I would personally have the patience for!

Karen Goeller

Kevin, I took a class with can’t think of her name at the moment
but will look it up… WE used a piece of steel and did exactly what
you recounted, lifting the steel and then putting the gold into
the lifted up parts… Shall have to look the class notes up but it
was awesome and looked great and the gold stayed and stayed never
falling out and looked wonderful… Shall try to follow this up to
let you know what we did… so exciting to know that this is the way
Brush did his work??? I just get crazy looking at his work and not
knowing how he did it… I do granulation but his is