Gold Woman Collage

Paper, 24 karat gold | 24" x 36"

Gold Woman Collage

This collage is based on a photograph from the cover of a the October 1996 issue of National Geographic with article and photographs by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher. It was created out of paper collage with 24 karat gold leaf. The subject is a woman from Ghana's Asante people displaying her family's wealth in the form of gold and gold jewelry for a festival.

Creation of Gold Woman Collage

I was inspired to make this collage when I saw the cover while we were looking for colors to make Afghan Girl. Obviously I fell in love with the subject's beauty, and I love sparkle and glitter, so the gold appealed to me as well. I thought it was a great opportunity to try working with gold leaf, which is much more difficult than I anticipated. I first created a layer from construction paper so I could check the color balance. I sketched on her facial features and a few other markers for proportion. I started with the background, clothing, and hair, because those were the easiest. Finding good gold tones for under the gold leaf was hard, and finding the right colors for the skin tones was almost impossible. I finally found enough of both after rummaging through about 100 magazines. I took a lot of time to try to get it right, and ended going back over and over with many layers until she was ready. I then pulled out my gold leaf, which makes tissue paper seem like kevlar. It was especially difficult because I needed to make the gold wispy, which meant my fingers were getting moist from the adhesive and the gold was sticking to my fingers. I really wanted a picture of my fingers covered in gold, but it's kind of hard to take that picture by yourself. In the end, I was happy with the result, but gold leaf is not my favorite medium to work with. I'd do it again though!