Shell Gold. (Very) Old School.


Shell gold is a way to paint with real gold using a paintbrush (most ‘gold’ paint is not genuine gold but instead a mix of mica, titanium dioxide and iron oxide or other chemicals). Its use dates to medieval times when it was used over egg tempura paint to draw fine lines, cross hatching and small details on religious paintings. It is made by grinding up small flakes of gold with salt for a long time until it becomes a powder. Then, it is mixed with honey or gum Arabic as a binder. Customarily, it was mixed and stored in a seashell, which is where the name derives. Once dried, shell gold is used with a drop of water to paint directly on dried oil paint and then sealed with varnish. This painting was made with shell gold made in the traditional manner.