The Art of Making an Impossibly Thin Gold Leaf from a Tiny Piece of Gold

By Casey Chan on at

Gold is so malleable that a single gram of it can be stretched into a strip nearly two miles long. A tiny little coin can be pressed into a 0.0001-millimetre-thin golden rectangle sheet the size of a tatami mat. So leave it to the talented artisans of Japan to transform a tiny bit of gold into shimmering gold leaf that’s so thin, it’s almost translucent.

The entire process starts with the making of a gold alloy that’s fed into rollers and thinned out. The sheets are then flattened even more with a power hammer which will then be very, very carefully stretched out in what seems like a never ending amount of steps that involve multiple workers using sheets of papers, chopsticks, tweezers, lye, persimmon liquids, and other obscure tools to get the gold leaf to look absolutely perfect.