Friday, September 2, 2016

The Gossip Column with Taheerah Atchia | No.5 - Precious Metals


BLOGLAND, Sep 2 (w&w HQ) - Hot on the heels of its spectrum of success, critically acclaimed trend-reporting feature, The Gossip Column, returns with a dazzling exposé of its latest, celebrated trend in the papercrafting industry.


Hi there everyone, and welcome back to another issue of The Gossip Column!! I know many of you have been awaiting the next instalment with baited breath, so I'm delighted to bring you your latest gossip fix, hot off the press! This month's issue is destined to dazzle, with a focus on one of the hottest trends, not only of the moment, but also of enduring appeal!!

If you're either new to The Gossip Column, or would like a refresher about it, please feel free to digest the most recent article, or keep reading for a quick recap of what The Gossip Column is all about:

The Gossip Column is an exciting monthly feature, with trend reporting and challenge and giveaway all rolled into one! Heading up this feature is our columnist Taheerah Atchia!

Each month, Taheerah will bring you an article, hot off the press, featuring a trend of some sort. Her write-up could feature trends reported from anywhere, not just papercrafting! As a part of the article Taheerah will also bring you some projects which interpret the chosen trend into papercrafting in some way - before throwing down the gauntlet for you to do the same! This exciting take on a challenge will still bring you the chance to create projects featuring your favourite w&w goodies, and the chance to win prizes too! But, more on that later!

Without further ado, let's dive straight into the fifth issue of The Gossip Column! We'll now hand you over to our Gossip Columnist, Taheerah!

Though it may only be a myth that magpies covet shiny objects[1], it is nevertheless more than understandable why we may have projected our own characteristics and introduced observational bias when this tall tale became ensconced in lore. Humans have long been attracted to that which shines - from suggested study findings, we might even be programmed to do so[2].

Precious metals are - once extracted, processed, and fashioned into items such as jewellery - of course shiny, but our beady eyes of course extend beyond evolutionary behaviour when it comes to these prized possessions. The clue is in the name - precious metals.

Precious metals are so-called because of their rarity. They are naturally occurring chemical elements, and their rarity and properties give rise to their high value. Precious metals are less reactive than other metals, are ductile (can be bent without breaking) and possess a high lustre. The most well known precious metals are gold and silver, which were historically traded as currency - but platinum, palladium and other elements in the same group, such as rhodium, mean that our lust for these materials has many options when it comes to ogling these objects of our affection.

Platinum, gold and silver metals

No mention of chemical elements can go unchecked without reference to the Periodic Table. Brace yourselves because here comes the Chemistry, folks.

The Periodic Table

Platinum (Pt) sits right next to Gold (Au) in the Periodic Table, with Silver (Ag) sat right above gold. The positions in the table relate to how many protons each element contains. I'll spare you the more detailed explanation of the composition of the elements (but if you really wish to have that discussion you can always e-mail me and have your ear chewed off for your trouble) but the upshot is that gold is the heaviest of the three, with silver being the lightest.

Gold, silver, and platinum, are normally not found in pure form, and will often be present with other elements in rock formations known as ores. Gold and silver may sometimes be found in the same ores, and other times will be present with other materials such as copper.

Naturally occurring gold ore

To extract precious metals from ores requires a number of chemical processes[3] (which could themselves be the subject of an entire series of articles, or Wikipedia pages if you prefer). In layperson's terms though, the rock surrounding the metal needs to be removed or dissolved away, impurities removed by reacting with chemicals (this is where the property of precious metals being fairly inert comes in handy), and other metals removed by smelting and collecting the metals at their various melting points. Once the metals have been refined they can then be used in jewellery making and other uses.

I, of course, cannot mention that these metals are found in rock without mentioning how they got there in the first place. What kind of scientist would I be, right?

For the answer to that question, it's time to bring on the Physics.

You perhaps may have heard the phrase that we are all made of stardust. Well, the same is true of precious metals too.

(Editor's note: it gets more technical from here!)

Our sun shines by burning hydrogen into helium in a process known as nucleosynthesis[4]. Other light elements are also produced by stars as they live through their infancy, with two main chains of fusion (lower mass stars being dominated by burning hydrogen to helium in the Proton-Proton Chain, and higher mass stars being dominated by the Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen Cycle, or CNO Cycle). The temperatures and pressures required to ignite fusion in both lower and higher mass stars are both very high - but not high enough to fuse elements that are heavier than Carbon.

For that, we need something far more dramatic.

An observed supernova in another galaxy.
There is a brief, bright flash as the explosion occurs.

The problem of how heavier elements are produced has always been an important one in Nuclear and Astrophysics. While fusion reactions up to the production of iron actually release or liberate energy, the creation of heavier elements does not. Heavier elements are also more unstable as they have a larger nucleus of protons and need more neutrons to balance them out - something that does not happen easily in normal conditions. As a result, heavier elements need to rely on a slow and highly energetic process to capture free neutrons, in order to stabilise the otherwise short-lived elements before they decay. So, you have to actually put more energy into the system to allow these types of reactions to happen.

Given enough time and available materials, heavier elements such as gold can be produced in the late stages of evolution in very massive stars by this process - but this process by itself does not account for the observed abundances of these elements in nature. The numbers are far too low and don't add up - it's maybe only 5% of it at most.

So what actually produces pretty much all the gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals in the universe? The most violent of ends for a star: a supernova[5].

The Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant

During the final stages of a star's life, it can no longer produce enough energy/pressure through fusion to stop its collapse under gravity. Stars start to collapse in on themselves, and the pressure triggers other reactions and new rounds of fusion of heavier elements such as iron. Eventually though, even this cannot continue. The eventual collapse of smaller stars leads to white dwarfs, and larger stars explode via supernovas. The energies and pressure that result in a supernova, along with all the heavier elements all the way up to iron... provide the perfect ingredients to fuse the heavier elements that are in existence today[6]. Another violent reaction that fulfils the same reaction? The collision of two neutron stars. (Editor's note: neutron stars are one of the most awesome types of star. There are so many cool things about them. I could geek out about neutron stars for days. But I won't).

As for how those elements ended up on Earth... they ended up in the dust clouds that formed our Solar System. Our planet was molten when it was formed, so actually all of the gold and heavier elements probably sank to the core. The gold we get at the crust/mantle level actually came from us being bombarded by asteroids.

(Editor's note: I apologise for over-sciencing you all. I have tried to explain this as simply as I can, but please don't worry if you don't get it. Physics isn't easy!).

How about I make it up to you all by showing you lots of shiny things?

Let us return from our whirlwind tour of evolution, the universe, and everything, and come back to the present day! Apart from their use as investments, use of precious metals (or products that imitate the look of them) are trending all over the place. Almost everything - from fashion, jewellery and technology, right through to homeware, décor... even food! - seems to have had the (metallic) Midas touch. Factor in a plethora of finishes - foil, glitter, matte, satin and more - and the permutations are dazzlingly dizzying. Artists and designers of course have embraced these trends too, with everything from calligraphy ink to abstract paintings incorporating a touch of the metallic in some form. And refusing to limit our options for design, our trends have also evolved to incorporate copper and rose gold (which is created by mixing gold with copper as its base metal). Stand by for an onslaught of inspiration...



Homeware and décor...


Art and Design ...

From exploding stars right the way through to dream décor - the very colours of precious metals invoke a sense of grandeur, wealth, style and taste. With a million different ways to add glitz and glam to almost every item imaginable, it is no wonder that we can't help but be drawn to the lustre, glitter, shine and beauty of gold, silver, platinum, and more, as it pervades and overwhelms our senses. Magpies may not covet it after all... but that just means there's all the more of this trend for us.

So, with that near overload of the senses from all that inspiration, I couldn't help but see a million different interpretations when it came to using precious metals in my own work! I have seen so different takes on this trend, but of course I wanted to do something different!

My first card features a combination of copper and silver for an industrial look:

I cannot think of a more perfect masculine card! I used the giant detailed diamond die from the Flawless Diamond Cutaways and painted it with copper paint for an authentic finish!

The card base features two types of silver paint finish - one matte and the other super-shiny for a really cool feel!

Look at that fantastic finish!

If you are a glitter-phobe you may want to not look at my second card:

I laid down three types and colours of glitter on my card panel, including a holographic rose gold, champagne/platinum, and pale gold!

The sentiment features some selective inking and fussy cutting using stamps from My Precious and True. I absolutely love stretching my sentiments using selective inking - it really changes things up so easily! I heat embossed all my words with a brass embossing powder, which is almost like a rose gold finish. :)

My next card evokes the feel of an abstract painting:

Lots of fun getting messy with inking/watercolouring and direct-to-paper techniques! Once that was all dry, I smeared some Multi Matte Medium onto the panel with my fingers and applied some more of that champagne/platinum glitter and a little gold splatter to add my glitz!

I used the In a Word: Hello Cutaway, to die cut my sentiment from my panel, then used a couple of layers of the same die-cut to raise the top layer off the card for a dimensional look!

In the centre of the 'hello' you'll also catch a small 'you' stamped using one of the words from the The Big, the Bold and You to finish things off!

Moving onto my penultimate project, I broke out Scenery: Big Bang Circle Creative Screenings stencil and brought my Minc out to play:

I used Minc Art Screen Ink with the stencil then ran it through my Minc with some gold foil once it was dry. I then added a simple black 'shine' sentiment die cut using The Big, the Bold and Fun Cutaways to finish it up.

And finally, I wanted to create something modern and beautiful and minimal, but still with a metallic punch:

I stamped several leaves from In Bloom: Renee's Leaves, then fussy cut them out and used the reverse to as a clean white slate! I part painted them with copper paint, copper mist and gold paint, added some splatter and set them to dry.

I die cut several tags using the large tag from the Essentials: Katharine Cutaways, then tore off the bottom of them for a rustic look. A little dry brushing of gold paint, and a little gold splatter dressed the tags up nicely before I adhered my leaves and added some twine to finish off the set!

I told you I was inspired! *wink*

So, now that you've had a whirlwind tour of all matters pertaining to precious metals, a host of inspiration images*, and some of my own creations to further inspire you, I am delighted to bring you this month's Gossip Column challenge!

Your challenge is to create a project which uses precious metals in a creative way! Use one precious metal, a number of the metals, or all of them - the choice is yours! As always I like to stretch your creativity, so I'm asking you to think outside the box with your designs and push your use of the theme outside your comfort zone! Pick a style that's new to you, or use your supplies in a different way, perhaps go for a top-to-toe (everything precious metals) design, try a new colour combo that incorporates precious metals, combine with one or more other trends - wherever your creativity takes you! I will be looking closely for originality as well as execution when it comes to picking winners, so dare to be different and show me what you can do!

*Need more inspiration? Check out our Pinterest board for a plethora of pins to further spark your creativity!

The Rules
  • Create a brand new project which uses precious metals (gold, silver, platinum - with the honoury inclusions of copper and rose gold) as a part of your design
  • Post on your blog or to an online photo album. Ensure you link up to this challenge post in your blog post
  • Extra credit will be considered for projects which use precious metals as the main focus of your design, combining two or more precious metals, top-to-toe (everything precious metals) designs, and/or for a creative and original use of precious metal colours
  • You must use at least one Winnie & Walter product for your creation. This can include our free digital products too!
  • Link up your creations to this post using the Inlinkz below. Please use the link to your actual post rather than the link to your blog
  • You can enter as many times as you like!
  • The deadline for linking submissions is Friday 30th September at 11:55pm CST. 
  • I will select one overall winner ('Gossip Queen/King'!) and two honourable mentions ('Hot Gossips'!). The Gossip Queen/King will win $30 credit to the w&w shop, and the Hot Gossips winning a $15 credit a piece!
  • Winners will be announced on the following Wednesday (5th October).

Are you ready to put your gossiping skills to the test?! I can't wait to see your creations!!

Just one more thing before you go! We would love your feedback on The Gossip Column and the challenge, so please do leave us a comment on this post! Each and every issue of The Gossip Column will focus on something different and we can't wait to bring you the future issues if you love this feature!

'Til next time, Gossipers... !


Further Reading:


  1. Another fabulous episode of the Gossip Column, although I have to admit the reading became much easier once I had reached the 'onslaught of inspiration...' lol.
    Amazing creations, too, all of them beautiful, but I think the Hello card is my favourite of the bunch. I'm looking forward to play along.

  2. Woow.. Amazing creation and is looks like a hard but interesting challenge

  3. You've provided a Big Bang of inspiration, Taheerah! I'm happy to know we have a good long time to play!

  4. OMG! Your creations are AMAZING! I love every single card.
    I really have to try to play in this one ... :)

  5. What a lot of info in one place. Terrific article...well done, Taheerah. The icing on the cake, so to speak, are all your shimmery, gilded eyes are falling out of my head...but they're so happy they looked.

  6. I cannot even handle all of the gorgeousness within this post. That all-glitter-all-the-time card using 3 different glitters left my jaw way down low on the ground. AWESOME!

  7. Simply amazing ness! Love your articles and I feel so smart after reading them lol! I can't wait to play along!

  8. I've always loved creating with metallics so it's nice one thing I like is actually on trend--haha! Your tags are my absolute favorite--love them! Thanks for another great challenge!

  9. wow you are brilliant and talented. those cards and tags are fantastic and SO YOU

  10. This whole article was down right Captivating!!! I could of read for hours... An easy read and extremely fascinating...along with a whole lot of beauty! Thank you soooo much for sharing the science behind these precious metals .. Love it!

  11. OMG. Best nerdy craft post EVER! brilliant AND makes beautiful things. you go girl!

  12. OUT-OF-THIS WORLD column Taheerah ... my eyes are SHINING with EXCITEMENT and my mind is FILLED with INSPIRATION!!!
    THANK YOU for sharing, hoping to join the metallic fun this month :)

  13. WOW! I am so excited about this challenge and your projects were STUNNING!!! This might be my most favorite challenge of any company yet! :)

  14. Taheerah, those are simply stunning!!!!

  15. Stunningly beautiful metallic cards and tags!

  16. Beautiful, precious and instant classics!

  17. Your articles are like an encyclopedia... I think I've said this before, but I can't say any different. I always leave with the feeling of having a masters degree in the matter you chose for the Gossip Column, with the advantage of leaving also with more style and glow. You rock, you tango, you waltz... :)!
    Your projects are unbelievably gorgeous... the "I Truly Treasure You" card makes me swoon! Now I need to CASE it!

  18. Definitely inspired! Those projects! And thanks for the science lesson too, Taheerah.

  19. I really love these cards and especially the fully glittery one. You said you used 3 type of glitters, would you have the exact reference?

    1. Hi Emilie, thank you for your kind words! I used Donna Salazar Pralines & Cream Fairy Dust Glitter, A:Muse Champagne Glitter, and a Rose Gold Holographic Glitter I found on eBay. Hope that helps! :)

  20. YOu outdid yourself here, Taheera! WOW - I am blown away! gotta find time to play along.....

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