King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop

Trip Start Dec 19, 2012
Trip End Jan 13, 2013

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Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another 8 am departure and first stop was to see the skilled gold leaf making. It was another labour intensive operation and I am sure that it can be easily mechanised. Taken directly from the King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop brochure which for 1,000 K / US $ 1.15 / NZ$ 1.40 / GBP .75 included a finished gold leaf that is sold to the locals for 400 K / US$ .50c / NZ$ 55c / GBP .3.

1 – Grinding Gold Ribbon. Stretch 3 tickles (1.928 oz) of gold bullion till it becomes a " ribbon of 20 feet long. Then cut the ribbon into 4 equal pieces of 5 feet in length. One such 5 feet ribbon is again cut into 200 equal pieces that are then wrapped up in a heap of bamboo made paper with every piece of gold separated by a layer of paper. These 200 pieces of wrapped gold make a unit.

2 – A unit of packed gold pieces is hammered with a 6 lb hammer for about half an hour.

3 – Cut each enlarged gold flake into 6 equal pieces and wrap them in the bamboo made paper as have done before. Thus we get 1200 small gold flakes that are packed as 1 unit.

4 – The packed unit of 1200 gold flakes is beaten again with a 6 lb hammer for about half an hour.

5 – After that every 5 flakes out of 1200 are made into 3. This we get a total of 720 flakes that are wrapped again in 5 " x 5 “ bamboo made papers as in stage 1. Then they are hammered with a 6 lb hammer for about 5 hours.

This is the final stage as well as the most important stage. While the beating is going on, the time is counted with a clepsydra or water clock, which is made of a halved coconut shell cup with a small hole at its bottom through which the water leaks in. The gold leaf beater has to finish 120 strokes before the cup is full. It usually takes an hour to have the cup filled with water 18 times.

It requires 3 persons to take turns in beating a unit of gold leaf. The first one has to beat it so that the paper package becomes hot; the second to make the size of the gold flake wrapped in the package expanded; the third to make gold flakes not to stick onto the paper. Normally 3 beaters take about 5 hours to finish beating a unit of gold leaf. However the beating time may vary due to the changes in temperature of the working place.

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