Crazy For Keum Boo...

Those who have been to the gallery have met me (Karen Britt) most likely. Many days I am pinned behind my bench-pin sitting low at my jewelry work-haven at work. Today, a visitor to the gallery and I were equally startled by each other as I was deep in focus (on the earrings in the thumbnail) while they quietly snuck up on the jewelry counter not noticing me either. We were both in our own 'zone' and galleries are good 'zoney' places. On the pretty days, I am out on the landing overlooking the Yaquina Bay polishing stones and doing the dirty work on the finishing of the jewelry pieces (getting a tan). 

My grandfather loved to fabricate in his metal-smithing and I believe I received the genetic propensity for it as well. Lately in the gallery/studio, Keum Boo has been what's cooking in addition to mixing other metals. Many of you have purchased pieces and heard the story about it but desired an explanation in writing so here goes:

Keum Boo is an Ancient Korean method of fusing Gold (23.5k) to Fine Silver (99.9). For more information about the history, google is awesome. My mom learned to do it decades ago and I was instantly jealous though it took me many years to catch up to her. One uses heat and friction to create a mechanical bond between the two metals without solder. The result is a terrain-change-free blending of the two. Often, the fine silver is hammered or textured before the application of the gold to give it topography from which to glimmer and glow. In addition, one may opt to 'patina' the silver with Liver of Sulfur (potassium sulfide) for a bluish-black contrast to the gold that does not oxidize. All these results are delicious, inspiring, and somewhat habit forming.

The earrings in the thumbnail are actually an amalgam of 4 metals (going for the mega-mixed-metals award). The platforms are copper textured and treated with patina, overlaid with hammered fine silver and gold Keum Boo, the prongs, loops, and earring wires are sterling silver. The harmony and contrast of hues and textures are the goal.

Keum Boo is touching many of the pieces in the jewelry counter as of late. See it on the stone necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, and even dare I say it, some pieces of art on the walls! Check out the New Jewelry Gallery for the latest pieces.



Engraved Shibuishi Copper/Silver alloy, Hammered Keum Boo, Sterling Silver Prong Setting