King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop in 36th Street is one of several gold leaf workshops where the manufacture of the wafer thin roughly 1.5 inch squares of gold leaf is carried out.
English speaking staff will show you the whole manufacturing process. Essentially it is as follows – take a 2oz button of gold and run it through a roll-press until it becomes a ribbon about 3/4 inch wide and 20 feet long. Chop it up into 800 equal pieces. Take 200 pieces, each piece separated by paper, put into a bundle and pound it with a hammed till it is flatter. Then, cut the now bigger 200 pieces into smaller pieces and repeat the procuedure several more times. It takes three men with large hammers around 6 hours to hammer the gold into small thin leaves. At the end of the day the men have turned the single gold button into around 2900 gold leaves.
After the men have finished hammering the leaves they are passed to a group of women sitting in a separate workroom who separate out the leaves and package them up for sale. The leaves have many uses including being used to gild religious items, for household decorations, as ingredients in traditional medicines, for makeup and even in cooking.
There is a small souvenir shop inside the building where you can buy gold leaves or ornaments that have been gilded to take home. Very little pressure to buy anything. There is also a donation bowl in front of the men doing the hammering if you wish to supplement their small incomes. They certainally work very hard.
Google Map reference to help you locate the King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop in Mandalay, Myanmar – Google Map
If you want to see how some enterprising and hard working locals make a living head on over to King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop and see for yourself.