A lovely man who had spent years of weekends fossicking dropped in to my workshop to have the gold he had found melted into bars.
I grew attached to a few tiny nuggets and he kindly sold them to me.
I have combined them each with shakudo—a japanese alloy (6% gold, 94% copper). I have a particular interest in the Japanese metalsmithing technique known as irogane, which combines copper with precious metals to produce a diverse colour palette. The black of the shakudo provides a wonderful contrast to the gold in its natural state.
I have fallen totally in love with these tiny black and gold bits and can see myself continuing to make them for years to come.And surely you have seen, in the darkness of the innermost rooms of these buildings, to which sunlight never penetrates, how the gold leaf of a sliding door or screen will pick up a distant glimmer from the garden, then suddenly send forth an ethereal glow, a faint golden light cast into the enveloping darkness, like the glow upon the horizon at sunset. In no other setting is gold quite so exquisitely beautiful. You walk past, turning to look again, and yet again, and as you move away the golden surface of the paper glows ever more deeply, changing not in a flash, but growing slowly, steadily brighter, like colour rising in the face of a giant. Excerpt: In Praise of Shadows by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, 1933.
Queensland alluvial gold nuggets
Shakudo (6% gold, 94% copper) treated with niage.
You can see this range in person at Fio (Brisbane).