If you are just getting into the art world, you may strictly use one medium, like oil or watercolor, for an entire piece. A way to shake up your practice is by composing a piece with different media or materials, known as a mixed media piece. One fun way to add color and texture to your piece is with scrap gold. Read on to learn more.
What is Scrap Gold?
Scrap gold is any gold that can be sent to a refiner to be melted down and recycled. Both 2-D and 3-D artists can use scrap gold. For instance, you could use scrap gold leaf, which is hammered into sheets, and applied to your paintings if you work mainly in 2-D. If you want to experiment in 3-D, scrap gold can be used in jewelry or in sculpture.
What are Some Examples of Gold in the Art World?
If you look at old illustrated manuscripts, monks applied gold leaf along with paint to give the pages a beautiful glow and to represent godly light. Arguably, the most famous painting that incorporates gold leaf—as well as silver and platinum—is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Modern artists today may not even melt the gold down or use it in sheets. For instance, some 3-D artists may use old wires, electrical equipment, construction materials, etc. to build an entirely new sculpture.
Where Can You Buy Scrap Gold?
Scrap yards with other metal materials may have scrap gold that you can purchase. You could also find jewelers or pawn shops that sell old or broken gold jewelry since these won't be as expensive. You could also go online to find independent sellers of scrap gold.
How Much Does it Cost?
Prices will vary widely depending on the weight and purity of the gold. The weight is measured in troy ounces and is the number you see when the scrap metal is on the scale. The purity refers to the maximum gold content and is measured in karat. Once you know the average prices gold is going for in your area according to weight and karats, you'll have a better idea of your budget for your art project.
Gold leaf may the most economical option since they come in thin sheets—similar to aluminum foil. Gold leaf can be manufactured from scrap gold, or you could get pre-cut sheets from an art supplier. To cut costs even further, you could get imitation gold made from brass, zinc, and copper, but these aren't high quality and can tarnish without protective sealants.
Reach out to a professional in your area for more information about buying and using scrap gold for mixed media pieces.