23.5 K Gold, Fine Silver (99.9)
Fire in the dark
Keum Boo is an Ancient Korean method of fusing Gold (23.5k) to Fine Silver (99.9). 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.
Heat and friction
My mom learned to do Keum Boo 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. If one admires the work too long at a high temperature, the gold, being heavier than the silver, will sink into the silver and disappear. The creation of these pieces is a dance between making sure the metals are married well and not doing any additional magic tricks.
There are so many ways to mix the metals. Keum Boo is a fusion, there is fabrication and metallurgy among others. These earrings are an example of all three mentioned. Shibuishi is a copper and silver alloy used in decorating Samurai swords and are the first layer of these earrings. Textured by engraving and patina, they contrast the Keum Boo layer and the sterling silver prong setting.
When the Boulder Opals came out to play for the Journeys show, it was evident they deserved special treatment. Each opal was surrounded by the glowing Keum Boo mimicking their own flash and glow. A few boulders fell into ring settings like this one where the entire Opal and Keum Boo jewelry piece is prong set like a gemstone. Sterling silver, being harder and more suited for ring bands wraps both the setting and your finger in finery.
One of the most exciting aspects of working with Keum Boo, Patinas, and Mixed Metals are the different textures to highlight and integrate the changes within the materials. Above are a pair of earrings with fine silver engraved in abstract patterns. They received the Liver of Sulfur patina, overlaid with hammered Keum Boo, and topped with Black Pearls. The exchange of colors and terrains is delightful and rewarding.