A pair of workers pounding gold leaf
If you observe the goings-on at almost in temple in Myanmar - or Thailand for that matter - you will notice the practice of 'pasting' gold leaves to some images within a temple. The making of gold leaf is one of many cottage industries, and there is a lane in Mandalay where you can see the old-fashioned crafting at work.
The making of gold leaf starts with a crude gold ribbon about one centimeter wide purchased from the smelter. The ribbon is already thin, five meters of it weighs only about 15 grams. The ribbon is cut into lengths about 2.5 centimeters long. Each strip is placed between layers of paper to make up a block of around 100 leaves of gold.
This first block is pounded for about half an hour. This is enough to flatten the already thin gold strip and spread it to about four times its original size. The leaves are then divided into smaller pieces again, and pointed for another hour. After another division, the leaves are pounded again for up to five hours to produce the final ultra thin squares, which are packaged in sets of five or ten leaves.