Make your own shell gold paint

Shell gold is a striking, glimmering hue made with genuine gold. It is used by artists across both Western and Islamic traditions.

Its name derives from the shells (mussel or oyster) which were originally used as the palette or dish to contain the precious pigment while artists were working.

This lavish paint has been used extensively in manuscripts decorated by Muslim illuminators for centuries. From Qurans to poems and stories, shell gold can be found applied in manuscripts from Iraq to India. Check out this gorgeous 16th century Persian folio depicting spring blossoms blooming on a background of shell gold.

Making authentic shell gold paint is becoming a lost art in the modern age of mechanical production. The true technique of crafting this luxurious pigment is a tactile and mindful experience which demands patience for the process and respect for the materials.

Join us over two evenings for this hands-on workshop. You will learn how to make your own highly pigmented shell gold paint from scratch like a master illuminator.

Delve into the Golden Age and explore the use of gold in Islamic manuscripts, as well as other metals and organic materials which can be turned into pigments.

Registering through this event page automatically books you in for both Part 1 and 2.

Part 1: Wednesday, 21 September (6-8pm)

We will begin by grinding up sheets of 22 carat gold leaf into very fine particles by hand. This is a time-consuming and tedious process, but well worth it. We will wrap up the evening by washing the gold with distilled water, and leaving this mixture to settle and separate overnight.

Part 2: Thursday, 22 September (6-8pm)

We return to our washed gold and begin by carefully pouring the water away, leaving us with a gleaming gold ink. After this, we will finish transforming the pigment into paint, and then use our shell gold to embellish traditional Islamic designs.

Terms and Conditions
  1. A minimum of 14 bookings are required by 1 September 2022 for this workshop to run.
  2. In the unlikely event that we cancel the workshop, you will be notified by email. We will also fully refund you after we receive your completed Refund Request Form.
  3. Cancellations made by participants within 72 hours or no-shows on the day are non-refundable.
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Event image: A Turkish tehzip design by @ozlemhsbl on Instagram.