Posted on April 25 2018
The keum boo process comes to us from eastern Asia, most notably Korean. As I was reflecting on it, it occurred to me that there are many similarities between keum boo and life. The process has been around for over 1,000 years and is a process of joining fine or pure gold with fine or pure silver. The process itself is very simple but the results can be dramatic like so many things in life. So many times in my life, the simple things have been the most fulfilling; walking on the beach with my wife, camping with my boys, just driving with the top down. Nothing fancy, but very soul-satisfying.
By heating the metals at a relatively low heat and adding pressure, the molecules get excited and start to migrate between the gold and silver in a diffusion process. Let’s be honest, how many times has it taken a little heat and/or pressure to get us off out butt and get us moving!
Once the diffusion has taken place you can texture the metal and form it into the shape you want. All it takes is a little patience. I don’t even have to say anything else about that… You can add a patina to the silver to really make the gold stand out, or just burnish the piece.
The ancient Koreans believed gold had healing properties. The wealthy would have eating utensils made out of gold so when the food touched the gold, the health qualities would be passed on to the diner. Of course, not many could afford solid gold, so by rolling the gold out paper thin and using the keum boo technique, the health properties of gold were made accessible to a much wider slice of the populace, necessity being the mother of invention.
Keum boo it a simple technique that produces startling results, a true case of art imitating life.