Transfer image to Gold - please help

I hope someone can give me advice on how best to transfer an image to gold in preparation for piercing out the design. I used the technique of rubbing a reversed image photocopy onto a piece of brass (for practice), using thinners, and this was successful. Unfortunately, when I tried this with 14k yellow gold the image would not transfer. I would appreciate any tips or advice on how to get the image transferred onto gold.

I figured out what I did wrong. I did not emery the surface of the gold first (actually trying to save myself extra polishing). But it turns out this is an all important step, in the thinners method I described. You live and you learn.

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Thank you

If it’s a computer image, you can print it on to the shiny side of an overhead projector transparency film. Let it dry for a few minutes then put a strip of tape over it. I use Scotch clear or packing tape for large designs, Gently lift the tape and don’t let it stick to itself, place on the piece you want to pierce, press it down from the center out to avoid bubbles. Gently pull it off and you’ll have a direct print.

This method isn’t very permanent, so don’t touch it or it will smear. If that’s not possible, you can spray it with some fixative, clear laquer or even hair spray.

As you’ve already found, no transfer method works very well on a high-polished surface, this is no different.

Best of luck ~

What I’ve done for years is to print the image on normal copy paper and epoxy it to the metal. I put epoxy on both sides of the paper to coat the image and to make the filings from sawing blow off easier from the shiny surface. When printing, use the highest resolution printer setting to give you the cleanest image. I use Illustrator to create the image although any vector type software will work.

I do that too, but I’ve found that using thin CA (Super Glue) to stick the paper to the piece is much easier. Make sure you use the watery thin stuff, not the thicker gap-filling variety. It works even better than the epoxy I used for years because you can orient the paper exactly the way you want it, dribble a little glue right on the paper and it will soak thru to the metal, sticking it down really tightly with no glue gap. To remove, a soak in acetone takes it right off.

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I use rubber cement to stick the paper to the metal. Put it on the metal and the paper, let it dry, then stick the two together. It holds well and comes off easy when you want it.


Thank you for the great advice

I’m a longtime paper pattern and rubber cement user. No clean up and if you have a nice surface, it stays that way.

Ruthanne Robertson


rubber cement for sure, try to avoid getting it on you or breathing the fumes tho - I like to apply rubber cement to the back of xeroxes or printouts, then quickly place the paper on the clean metal, then use the back of a razor blade (the curved aluminum that wraps the back of the blade?) to burnish the paper perfectly down onto the surface - this squishes out unevenness in the adhesive (you’ll be surprised - you’d think the rubber cement brushes on thinly but there’s always some that squeezes out on the edges) - just be sure not to cut yourself essentially using the razor blade backwards as a paper burnisher / glue lump smoosher - old razor blades work well for this


Consider using double stick tape to adhere the image to the metal.

Regardless of how I put an image on sheet metal I always cover both the front and back with clear packing tape. It helps keep the image from lifting off while saw piercing and it also keeps the back of the metal sheet from getting all scuffed up from debris on your bench pin. Even if the bench pin is clean the hard wood will scuff up the back thus making for more finishing time.
Jo Haemer


Hi Jo!

Doesn’t the stickiness from the tape make the saw gummy? And in cases where it is very intricate sawing, does the powdered metal resulting from sawing clump and cover parts of the image?

Janet in Jerusalem

Janet- No problem with gumminess. The metal filings do stick a little but not enough to matter to me. The biggest pain in the a** is removing the tape afterwards. I use acetone to do that. Regardless of the “pita” part I’m happiest when I don’t have to file, sand, and polish metal that was perfect when I bought it.
I actually enjoy saw piercing intricate monograms. Yeah I’m kinda sick that way.
I generally only use 3/0 blades. I only use 8/0 in extremely tight places. My fav saw piercing trick is to use the saw blade itself as a file when going back and correcting lines that have been cut. I sort of caress the lines with the side of the blade. Much more controllable and accurate than an escapement or needle file once you get the hang of it.

I use plain old white glue,works well enough for me.

I’ve been using rubber cement since I started piercing.

A couple of things I’ve learned are 1) take the polish off the metal with some steel wool, and 2) coat both the paper and the metal with the cement. Both of these will make for better adhesion, especially in the more intricate areas of the design where the space between lines can be pretty narrow.

Lastly, I give the applied design a good smack in my planishing press to squeeze flat the inevitable bumps of cement.