Ten tips to make Keum Boo easy

Keum Boo is a magical technique and one of my favourites to teach! Here are some of the best tips that I teach my classes.

Keum Boo is a magical technique and one of my favourites to teach! A combination of heat and pressure permanently
bond gold onto silver, creating gorgeous
mixed metal designs.

Here are some of the best tips that I teach my classes.

1. Always use the best quality foil to get the best results. The foil that I use is 24k gold and on average 0.014 mm or 14 microns thick. Cheaper versions can be only 23.5k gold and on average 0.004mm or 4 microns thick. The best quality foil gives the most beautiful bright gold finish and is much easier to cut and apply to your silver. I buy my 24k gold foil from Metal Clay Ltd, and although I haven't see it in real life it looks as though this sheet from Contenti is a good match.

2. Paper punches are perfect for cutting fancy shapes from the gold foil. Yes, the the type that you can easily buy in craft shops! Remember that you don't have to use the whole shape on your design - have a look at the Textured Flower Pendant class to see how just part of a large flower was used to create a gorgeous pendant. Read tip number 4 to help you use punches with the foil...

3. Decoupage scissors are also great for cutting delicate shapes by hand. Their spring action make them easy to use, and how far they open can be adjusted via a screw.

4. When cutting Keum Boo foil, put it inside a fold of tissue paper first. This will give extra strength to the soft gold, allowing you to cut crisper edges whether you're using punches or scissors. You can also sketch lightly on the paper to give yourself cutting lines to follow and plan out the best use of your precious gold!

5. Try a rolling mill texture on your Keum Boo - it really does give beautiful results! Both the Textured Flower Pendant and Pinwheel Flower Pendantclasses use this effect. I prefer to add the gold foil first and then send the metal through the rolling mill for best results, but it is best to do this with the thicker, better quality gold foil.

6. It can take a little practice to get the gold exactly where you want it to be on your design, but the next two tips help with this... firstly, dip the tip of your burnisher in clean water and then touch the wet burnisher to the piece of foil. The foil will temporarily stick to the burnisher, allowing you to carefully transfer it to the silver.

7. If your design is particularly fiddly or you are still getting used to transfering the silver accurately, try putting the gold in place on the silver when the metal is still cold. You will then have time to move the gold to exactly where you want it to be. When you're ready, plug in your kiln or hot plate and allow them to heat up together until the temperature is right for burnishing.

8. This one is a safety tip. To cool your silver down quickly, place it on a steel block as you take it off the hot plate. The steel will draw the heat from the silver, keeping your studio nice and safe.

9. Plan out your work to make the best use of your gold foil. You can draw on the fold of tracing paper as above, and I also find it useful to cut the shapes I want to use from yellow paper. I can play about with different possible layouts of my design until I'm happy with it - and only then cut the foil.

10. Make sure that you save even the smallest pieces of your gold foil - all the tiny pieces left over after cutting intricate shapes out, and all the extra pieces you trim for the edges of your work. These can be used to patch up any accidental patches, and can also be over-lapped to cover up a piece of silver. The Cup of Gold pendant and Golden Beads project both use left-over "scraps" of gold to create beautiful designs.

11. And a bonus! A Liver of Sulphar patina doesn't affect gold. Use the patina to colour just the silver in your design to really make the gold pop and glow! Look at the Layered Gold Flower Earrings class to see how beautiful that looks.

Want to find out more about using Keum Boo in your jewellery?

Here are some useful free tutorials and video classes!

Keum Boo Tools and Materials List
Pinwheel Flower Pendant workshop
Golden Beads - turn silver tube into golden beads, with three project ideas!
Keum Boo Tools and Materials List
Pinwheel Flower Pendant
Golden Beads
Download a list and explanation of the tools and materials you need for Keum Boo.
Learn how to add beautiful 24k gold to your silver jewellery - use your leftover gold foil and add a rolling mill texture!
Learn how to turn silver tube into golden beads - with three beautiful project ideas!

Categories: : jewellery making tips, jewellery tutorial, keum boo, problem solving

Joanne Tinley

Tutor and Founder of The Jeweller's Bench

The Jeweller's Bench is run by Joanne Tinley. She has been making her own jewellery for as long as she can remember and left her first career as a school teacher to set up business as a  jewellery designer and tutor nearly 20 years ago. She is
self-taught and like many people started with wire and beads. Learning how to solder, however, opened up a whole new world of jewellery making,  one that she is keen to share!