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Gold!

Overview:

Through this Lesson Plan you will learn about the relationship of gold leaf to math, history, apprenticeships, design and history of the material. The activities cover discussion, research and actual creation of pieces using gold pencils and inks.

Featured Artist: Nancy Thorn

Video Description: Nancy works with gold leaf and the restoration of objects. The storyline touches upon history of gold leaf, current uses of gold and aluminum leaf, process of using sheets of gold leaf, and restoration of frames and sculptures.

Clip Length: 5:44 minutes

Themes Explored in this Unit:

  • History of gold – it dates back to the middle ages! What are the various stages?
  • What is a sheet of gold leaf? Process? 500 sheets, each sheet 3 inches square = 18 grams of 23 carat gold
  • Apprenticeship to learn how to guild – passed on from generation to generation.
  • Restoration and the history of working on an old piece that many people have touched.
  • Gilding is not always gold – aluminum leaf can be dyed – variety of colors.

Notes to Teachers About this Lesson Plan:

This unit is about the relationship of gold leaf to math, history, apprenticeships, design and the history of the material.

ACTIVITY 1: Gilding History

Objectives:

  • To learn about the historical significance of gold leaf.
  • To learn about the specific uses of gold leaf.
  • To learn about the system of apprenticeship.

Estimated Time Needed for Activity:

Three 45--minute classes

Notes:

This activity can be linked to other history topics being studied, such as African and Eastern gold trade.

Addressing Cultural Diversity in the Learning Environment:

Look at the use of gold in African and Eastern countries. Which students come from families that use gold in a particular way--perhaps gold jewelry, or gold decoration?

Materials Needed for this Activity:

  • Access to Internet and library

Additional Resources:

  1. Watch the video about Nancy Thorn.
  2. Research done in small groups
    • Spend some time researching the history of gold leaf. What kinds of objects were covered with gold leaf?
    • When did the use of gold leaf begin?
    • Tell us about the historical reasons for use of gold leaf.
  3. Research one object from history that was gilded. What are some gilded sculptures and monuments in Oregon, i.e. Joan of Arc, NE Portland and State House, Salem.
  4. Define 10 applicable vocabulary words that have to do with the history of gold.Questions to consider:
    • What is the process of gilding?
    • How did apprenticeships work?
    • What knowledge was gained by the apprentice?
    • What kinds of objects were worked on at any given stage by the apprentice?
    • What was the specific importance of using gold leaf on the object?
  5. Assign one person as scribe, and as a group, write a brief composition, creative piece, or poem that includes the information learned and the ten vocabulary words.
  6. Discussion as a whole group.
  7. Present findings. One topic per group, with a presenter from each group.

Procedure:

  1. Watch the video about Nancy Thorn.
  2. Research done in small groups
  3. Spend some time researching the history of gold leaf.
  4. What kinds of objects were covered with gold leaf?
  5. When did the use of gold leaf begin?
  6. Tell us about the historical reasons for use of gold leaf.
  7. Research one object from history that was gilded.
  8. What are some gilded sculptures and monuments in Oregon, i.e. Joan of Arc, NE Portland and State House, Salem.
  9. Define 10 applicable vocabulary words that have to do with the history of gold
    • Questions to consider:
      • What is the process of gilding?
      • How did apprenticeships work?
      • What knowledge was gained by the apprentice?
      • What kinds of objects were worked on at any given stage by the apprentice?
      • What was the specific importance of using gold leaf on the object?
  10. Assign one person as scribe, and as a group, write a brief composition, creative piece, or poem that includes the information learned and the ten vocabulary words.
  11. Discussion as a whole group.
  12. Present findings. One topic per group, with a presenter from each group.

Assessment

Extensions and Adaptations

Build upon English learning by expanding requirements. For example, a business letter seeking work as an apprentice, a formal composition or outline documenting the gilding process and history, or a multimedia presentation about the object and the history of gilding.

ACTIVITY 2: Gold Leaf, Before and After

Objectives:

  • Figure out how much gold leaf is needed to cover an object using math.
  • Experience the process of using gold leaf.

Estimated Time Needed for Activity:

Two 90--minute classes

Notes:

Gold leaf can be found at many craft stores.

Addressing Cultural Diversity in the Learning Environment:

Look at which countries use gold leaf as decoration. Is it used as wealth or status? Which countries show a historical interest and use of gold leaf?

Materials Needed for this Activity:

  1. Individual objects, or a larger collaborative object
  2. Gold leaf
  3. Tools for applying inexpensive gold leaf
  4. Access to calculator and Internet

Additional Resources:

Procedure:

  1. Watch the video about Nancy Thorn.
  2. Students might bring in an object to cover, or the teacher might guide the students in a collaborative project that will result in a group artwork.
  3. How much gold leaf will you need to cover your object?
  4. What is the exact process you will need to follow?
  5. Cover the objects with gold leaf.
    • Mathematically computed amount of gold leaf used
    • Square footage covered
  6. Display objects along with a written description of your process, amount of gold leaf used, and square footage covered.
  7. Hold a kind critique of the objects. Think about the change in the aesthetics of the objects.
    • How might they be perceived differently after being gilded?
    • Do they elicit a different response now?
    • Will the object still ‘work’ if placed back in its original location?

Assessment

Extensions and Adaptations

  • A group project altering a larger space.
  • Creating a display in the foyer of the school with a larger presentation on the history of gilding.

ACTIVITY 3: Changing Your Environment

Objectives:

  • To apply the traditional idea of using gold leaf in modern ways.
  • To learn about perspective.

Estimated Time Needed for Activity:

Three to four 45--minute classes

Notes:

A more stylized piece might be created based on 60’s pop culture, the rococo period, baroque period, etc.

Addressing Cultural Diversity in the Learning Environment:

  • A discussion might be held about what students have noticed about using gold leaf.
    • Have they noticed use of gold in any specific cultural places, ex. restaurants?
    • How might their own history/heritage provide clues as to past uses and values of gold leaf?

Materials Needed for this Activity:

  • A variety of high quality gold pencils and inks
  • 16 x 24 paper
  • Rulers
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Books on perspective
  • Architecture books and magazines

Additional Resources:

Procedure:

  1. Watch the video about Nancy Thorn.
  2. Students will draw an interior incorporating the use of gold or aluminum leaf. This could be in your home, a restaurant, airport, library, etc.
  3. Keep it simple, to one concept in the alteration of a room by using gold or aluminum leaf.
  4. What parts of the room would be covered? Ceiling, counters, columns, chairs, tables, etc.
  5. What parts would you leave uncovered?
  6. What kind of leaf would you use?
  7. Would you use only one color or several?
  8. How does this space relate to the larger surroundings/environment?
  9. Using metallic pencil, make a drawing of the interior concept.
  10. If possible, learn about perspective and draw the interior using those techniques.
  11. Hold a brief discussion to talk about the resulting work.
    • Which designs achieved their purpose?
    • Which designs might you create today?
    • Which is a more historical use of gold or aluminum leaf?
    • Which is a more modern use of gold or aluminum leaf?

Assessment

Extensions and Adaptations

Social Science extension:
Basing your design on a particular design or time period. This could be accompanied by research.

Lesson At A Glance:

Author: Kathleen Dinges

OR Standards: Create, Present, Perform, Historical and Cultural Perspectives, Create, Present, Perform, Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Create, Present, Perform

Integrated Subjects: Career-Related Learning, Math, Social Studies, English/Language Arts

Downloads: sg_groupcollab.pdf, sg_creation.pdf