The thin gold foil is then cut into squares the size of stamps. The gold is inserted between the sheets of a special package of paper called “mould”, which is subsequently subjected to numerous mechanical beating cycles. When the metal is in the beating stage, the kinetic energy of the hammers generates a large amount of specific pressure that makes the gold spread out onto the surface of the papers, further reducing the thickness of the gold. The leaf that is obtained is a few tenths of a micron, so thin as to be semi-transparent.
Although sophisticated technologies and state-of-the-art machinery are used in the beating cycle, the finishing process is still carried out entirely by hand. By using a variety of hammers that have different shapes and weights, the craftsman “stretches” the edges to make the surface perfectly smooth.