Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unfoiled again - Experimenting with Imitation Foils

Beginner student frequently ask me about the "foil" inside of beads - what is it, what can you use. So I explain that is pure silver, and that it is not sterling silver, and then go into the definition of sterling silver and why you can't use it.

And that the really cheap stuff from the craft store isn't going to work, neither will aluminum foil or the foil from cigarette packages, but "A" for creativity anyway.

Note to sellers - Folks don't know it is pure silver - you have to tell them. Then tell them how expensive it is and how hard it is to make it look nice. They don't know this.

So, I had a student that brought in some gilding material called "Art-Metall" - photo was taken with my phone, and is blurred a little by camera shake - my phone has a really slow shutter speed, for some reason.

It didn't look like the metalized mylar that some of the imitation stuff looks like - it looked and behaved like real metal leaf - and it was fabulous to look at - gold with ripples of blue - scrumptious!

Ok - let's try it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I made a white cylinder bead, and rolled it on the foil.

As soon as the foil hit the surface of the bead, it went a dull grey. Stayed intact, but lost it's sheen and went dull and ancient looking.

I put dots of clear on it, and melted them in. The foil behind the dots disappeared, but the foil between the dots stayed a dull grey, and would not burn away, despite my attempts.

I left it out of the kiln to cool - so we could see it better.

As it cooled - we discovered it had gone a light aqua.

So - there has to be copper in that foil, I'm thinking.

A little reading online reveals that imitation foil for gilding can be "schlag" metal (Dutch Gold or imitation gold) - which is sometimes aluminum and can be heat treated to add colours. (Schlag also means "with whipped cream" in the context of food - I wonder if there is a connection between gilding and adding whipped cream - fancying it up with a wonderful but unnecessary extra?)

The Art-Metall came from Curry's - which does have a website, this is the closest on there that I found. Their website is painfully slow, doesn't list brand names, and doesn't have individual product photos - so it's safer to go into a store in person.


  1. Really an interesting look to the bead. I actually like it. Will the annealing process change it? CJ

  2. I don't know. I'll run it through the kiln and let you know. It might not survive - as it was just left to air-cool - but that should tell us if the colours change.

  3. Follow up: It annealed fine - no changes.