It is important in the Vietnamese culture to have access to gold leaf especially during the new year celebrations when all the alters need new gold and new decorations. I was able to visit a family who processes the gold into leaf and watch it happen step by step. They mine gold in the rivers and I saw that on a river cruise. At this house they first have to make the lacquer covered paper that is put between each "dot" of gold. They create a stack and wrap it with another special paper before starting to pound, turn, pound, turn. There is a photo showing the gold "dot" between layers of lacquer paper. They continue to pound until the gold is flattened to reach the edges of the paper. The heat created by the pounding and the force of the mallet work together to get these very thin gold leaves. These two young men work together creating leaf and a pounding rhythm. You can hear them from blocks away. When they have it to the edges it is taken into the women who carefully take it from the lacquer sheets and stack them together. No sneezing...no fans...no open windows even in the extreme heat of the summer. They can use the lacquer sheets up to 10 times before they have to make new ones.
Making silver leaf is the same process. I bought a little packet of each and am planning now on how I plan to use them in my new paintings.