For several months, I had been toying with the idea of trying melt some gold at the glazing stage of my pottery. I looked online to see if there were any artists that had experimented with gold flakes and glaze, but did not come across anything similar to what I had in mind. After some research on the melting temperature of gold and a few purchases at the Timmins Museum gift shop and the Royal Ontario Museum gift shop, I had enough bottles of flakes for experimenting. (The price ranges between $5 and $10 plus tax for a little bottle of flakes suspended in what appears to be glycerine.)
I started by dumping the liquid and some flakes out on a piece of thick newsprint. The picture below is on of the Royal Ontario Museum bottles; the gold comes from South America.
Once some of the flakes dried off, I placed them in the bottom of a small pinch pot bowl, which I had coated inside and out with glossy white glaze. I just used my fingers for this. Since the gold flakes blow around easily, and since the kiln has a fan in it, I decided to weigh down the gold with a couple flat marbles. Hopefully, they will also act as a buffer preventing the gold from just burning off… if that is what may happen. This is another pinch pot bowl I made earlier. The cherry blossom design was stamped in used the lid off an old Avon lipstick tube found at Relics, a local vintage goods store. Again, the gold flakes were weighed down with flat marbles. I also discovered that attempting to dampen them with a spray bottle of water to help them stick to the glaze does NOT work – the gold just blows away in the mist. The hardest part when working with the flakes is trying to convince myself that even though gold averages around $1200 an ounce, there are only few milligrams in this bottle and I don’t have to try salvaging every single flake. Next was to try the gold-and-marbles combination with my long-lost red clay maple leaf from earlier on in the year. The maple leaf was dipped in Orange Street glaze. The picture below shows the maple leaf with one of the dragon linocut discs I made back in the winter. The original idea was to have the gold melt in all the indented areas of the dragon, but that was before I realized the more likely scenario would be that the gold would blow all over the kiln. Laying down the gold with water is a little more difficult when the glaze is coloured, as it kept getting covered up. I used a couple paint brushes to help spread the flakes and lay them out flat. I also ventured to see what may result with some being added on the rim where they are not covered by glass. Hopefully, it won’t end up as a mess. I placed several flat marbles in the bottom of the leaf and now hope that everything will melt into an interesting combination. I’m wondering if it could possibly end up turning into red stained glass?