Ammonite fossils are found throughout the world. They are usually dull grey or brown.
However, the ammonites found in some parts of the northern United States and Alberta, Canada, the conditions being just right, have opalized and turned into a beautiful colorful work of art.
Ammonites from these regions are very expensive so I have tried to replicate the effect using various techniques.
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Step 1: AMMONITE FOSSIL PREPARATION
Obtain an ammonite fossil. They can be found from various sources on line, and depending on the size can start around $15.00 and up to $200.00 to $300.00 for the larger ones. Place your ammonite fossil on several layers of newspapers and make sure the fossil is free from any loose particles or dust.
Step 2: GETTING READY TO START
Assemble your supplies, gold leaf, gold leaf glue, a few assorted paintbrushes, epoxy resin, rubbing alcohol, alcohol inks in your choice of colors, paper towels and disposable gloves. Regarding the inks, I chose red, blue, purple, yellow orange and green. Many colors are available, and the choice is yours. Most genuine ammonites use the colors I listed, but there are also some that are only in blue, green and yellow, or all red, or all green, the variations are endless.
Step 3: GLUING THE GOLD LEAF
Pick a location on your ammonite and spread the glue according to package instructions . I put enough glue on the fossil for a sheet of gold leaf, then carefully place the gold leaf on the fossil. It doesn't matter if it is not completely flat, just do your best. Gently pat down with a dry finger, or use a dry brush, do not wipe, just pat down. When the gold leaf is in place and has dried, you can brush off any loose pieces of leaf with a soft dry paint brush. You can now take the brushed off pieces of gold leaf and fill in any large areas that were missed. Spot glue these on. Leave some little areas without gold leaf, don't cover every single little space, you will paint these later. Also, glue some of the smaller pieces of gold leaf just over the edge of the ammonite, as the genuine fossils have small bits of color just over the edge..
Step 4: PAINTING YOUR FOSSIL
Study a few genuine colored ammonites online to see the color placement. This will give you an idea what color scheme you wish to create. However, there is no wrong way to proceed, the color placement you do is up to you. I was attempting to replicate a genuine ammonite. Alcohol inks can be dripped on the area you choose. If you change your mind, dab with rubbing alcohol and that will remove the color, if you just want to lighten it, dab on rubbing alcohol and dab off quickly. Overlapping ink colors is fine too, you can blend with a paintbrush, or not, but you will need the brush to spread the inks that occasionally start to run off the side of the fossil. Also remember to color the small pieces you glued on over the edge. . Continue on with the colors until you have covered the entire fossil. Now, using a fine brush and the black acrylic paint, apply thin black lines in cracks, crevices, dips, striations, and small open areas where small bits of gold didn't adhere.
Step 5: APPLYING THE RESIN
When the inks have dried on the fossil (it doesn't take long) get ready for the resin coating. Wear disposable loves for this step. Make sure your work area is well ventilated as resin does have some fumes. Mix the resin according to the package directions and pour a bit on the fossil, you can spread it gently with a paintbrush, then pour some more. Resin takes a long time to dry so no need to rush this step. Again, pour some more on, spreading gently to areas that have been missed. It will drip off the edges of the fossil, but the newspapers will catch any drips. Once you have total coverage, leave the fossil untouched for 24 to 48 hours. You will have a nice glossy finish that will protect your fossil. It is not necessary to treat the underside of your fossil, the front is so bright no one will care about the back!
The brush I used for the glue I threw away, the ink brush cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and the resin brush is still sticky, so I threw it away. The brush used for the fine acrylic lines washes off with water. Do not use your best brushes for this project.
Step 6: THE RESULTS
Here it is, your completed ammonite fossil. I hope you enjoy yours! Happy creating!
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