In a demonstration of the ‘electroless metal plating’ process, and to make one hell of a lamp, Wunderworks‘ artist Tony Wurman gold-plated an entire human spine — real bones — and cast it in resin, for a piece called “Backlight“. Transmaterial explains it best, saying,
In contrast to conventional electrolytic processes, electroless plating uses a nongalvanic chemical plating method involving multiple reactions in an aqueous solution without external electrical power. Electroless plating can provide decorative and protective finishes for many materials, including metal, wood, glass, plastic, stone, fiberglass, ceramics, and even fabrics.
Wurman’s gold-plated light sculpture of a human spine cast in urethane resin demonstrates that the electroless process is highly cost effective compared to conventional electroplating and vacuum metallizing and is not limited to the item’s size, design, or surface characteristics. Moreover, the electroless-plated object’s finished surface will accept conventional paints to enable striping, accenting with graphics, or airbrushing.