Gert gick bort i oktober 2018. Jag har arkiverat hans webbplats här som ett minne. Jag har även lagt ut några ytterligare av hans verk för nedladdning. Tomas, november 2018


Figural gold foils


Figural gold foils are small, thin and often beautifully formed pieces of art. The surface of the above example is about one squere cm and it weights 0, 044 grams. The thickness is about 0,05 mm. The picture to the right is the back side, turned for the comparison with the front side to the left.

The figural foils are normally said to be formed by ”repoussé technique, using patrices”. I myself strongly argue that repoussé is correct, but patrices is usually not. To me it is obvious that each one of the figural foils has to be examined separately to find out how each one of them was made. Doing that, you will find that there is usually no way that they are made by use of patrices. Rather, the tools must be miniature versions of normal repoussé and chasing tools, certainly using no hammers, but the force and movements of the hand itself.

This figural gold foil is found near Stockholm


Bilden tillhör SHM. Fotograf: Gunnel Jansson, Raä

This figural foil was found near Stockholm, together with 26 other ones.

It squares 11 mm and is about 0,03 mm thick.

Front side.

Back side.

The above examples are certainly not made by using patrix.  If good knowledge about repoussé and chasing techniques had been at hand, the discussion would have been somewhat more complex and interesting than it has been. Please note that the question is not weather it is possible or not to make figure foils by use of patrix. Of course it´s possible! The real question is ”how is this particular figure foil made”.

The figure foil to the left was found at Lundeborg in Denmark.

The one to the right was made in my kitchen. It took about fifteen minutes to make and it´s made of aluminum foil. I didn´t have the ambition to make a nice piece, more to try to form a foil ”my way”.

To make figure foils of this simple quality is very easy and takes no special skills.

To the left an example of a reconstructed hand embossing tool for making gold figure foils. Most of the different figure foil motifs were made with similar tools, where one end is a spherical point and the other as a chisel. The two ends could be used in a variety of smart ways to make a great variation in embossing as well as decorations on the front side.

A similar tool was found at the gold foil site Helgö near Stockholm, below.

Having said that, there are certainly figure foils produced with patrieces. And they are great in numbers because of the possibility of mass production. The one to the left is one of the 70 pieces made by the same patrix, found at Möllegård on Bornholm island. From the back side I have reconstructed the patrix (right) and the forms are rather angular and stiff.

Sorry about ”having said that”. I´ve changed my mind, After having examined a great number of these 70 ”identical” pieces at the Bornholm Museum this summer, I found they were made by hand embossing, too.

The figure foil to the left represents the edge of skill in this practice.

And today I doubt that any ”guldgubbe” at all was made by the use of a patrix. They are all made by hand embossing (swe: penndrivning)

Discussion anyone?

But how was it possible to make all these figure foils almost identicly alike? Good question!

I call it multi layer embossing, meening that you put a number of foils on each other and make the same number of figures at the same time.

Is that really possible? Oh yes, and every figur foil gets slightly different in detail, just the way they are in reality.