Monthly Archives: January 2010

Update for my quick request

I just wanted to say think you to all of those that sent their well wishes and prayers as my little one went through surgery today. Everything has gone pretty well so far. She is fairly chipper, though quite hoarse and sore. She is hanging in there and being a champ.

Tomorrow’s Tool Time Tuesday is being put together by Jeanette at I will post as soon as she has it ready.

Thank you again!

~ Melissa ~

A quick request

I have some fun new things to show, but I still need to get some pictures done of them first. But that won’t happen until at least Tuesday.

Tomorrow my 3-year-old, Kate is having surgery. She is going to have tubes placed and her tonsils and adenoids removed. While I know that this is a routine surgery, I am still very nervous. I have always been afraid of losing a family member. After losing Kelsi, it just makes me so much more aware of how fragile life is. Being married to a medical professional, I hear all too often of how quickly lives are changed in drastic ways. I would just appreciate any good thoughts and prayers that you can offer as they can never be a bad thing. I will update when I return home tomorrow.

Thanks in advance!


Large Scale Decorations

Today I had the opportunity to take a class in Mt. Vernon, just north of Columbus Ohio. The studio is called Hammer Song Farm. It was something very different from the classes I have taken before. It was a Welding Class. We used all sorts of great new tools to make a Kinetic Garden sculpture. We made butterflies that fly in the wind. Their wings move and the balance on a pole and can move with the wind. We began the aging process with various chemicals and once it gets outside, the patina will continue to get better and better.

While this isn’t exactly Jewelry, I am using this as my week 2 YOJ entry.   Hey, it is jewelry for my garden. You can find out more about the Year of Jewelry Challenge on the Creative Wire Jewelry Delphi Forums.

I cannot wait to get this out to my garden this spring. For now, it will sit in my home where I can enjoy it and the kids can make it fly.




A few questions answered

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Question 1: My piece turns yellow after using the LOS. How can it be removed?

First of all, there was a question about the pieces becoming yellow after using the LOS. There are two things that came to mind when I read about this. The first question has to have a question of its own answered. Is the piece yellow before you put it in the LOS, but after soldering? Sometimes when I have old or contaminated pickle my pieces will develop a nasty yellow film that I deal with in a couple of ways. First, you can sand it off…. but who wants to do that? My method of choice is to neutralize and dump the spent pickle. Then I heat my piece up again, quench and dunk in a fresh batch of pickle. That usually takes care of it.

Now, if the silver piece is turning yellow after using the LOS, it would indicate that the piece hasn’t been left in long enough for the chemical to make the piece really dark. Try to heat your piece with hot water and place it in the LOS again. It isn’t uncommon to leave my piece in the LOS for a few minutes while the chemical works. Your LOS could be weak or cold and that also has an effect of how dark your pieces turn.

Removing the LOS patina can be done in a couple of ways. Assuming you don’t have any stones set or used in the piece, you can put it in the pickle. There are also tarnish remover products that you can purchase from stores in the cleaner isle. There is a dip I like to use that is similar to Tarnex. You MUST be careful when using this product though as it can damage  your softer stones and pearls. I would suggest testing it out scraps or an old piece you don’t care for first.

Question 2: How do you clean copper when it tarnishes?

Depending on how heavy and thick the oxidation is, you can use a soft toothbrush and white toothpaste, like Colgate. Depending on the type of finish the piece has you can also use a few other soft abrasives. Again, you must use caution with the abrasives when you have stones in your pieces. I really like to use a pumice powder to clean and remove excess oxidation from my pieces. But this is only the case if my piece has a soft matte finish to it in the first place.

Question 3: Is this possible to do with Silver plated wire?

Absolutely! You do need to exercise some extra caution when removing the LOS as you can easily remove the thin layer of silver plating. Gently buff the piece with the steel wool or pumice powder to remove the oxidation from the high areas of the piece.

Question 4: Can you use LOS with wire pieces?

Again, Absolutely! And it really makes your pieces pop when you do. The process is the same as the tutorial outlines. Here are a couple of my angels that show the difference in two wire pieces, one with LOS and one without.

Melissa Muir - Angel Jewelry  Melissa Muir Jewelry

If I want to bring a piece back into a higher “polish”, particularly if it is silver plated, I would opt to throw it into a tumbler with stainless steel shot for at least 15 minutes. Again, this needs some caution if you have stones or pearls in your piece as it could damage them easily. I looked through some of my images for a better example, but gave up my search in my own pieces. There are so many examples out there of fabulous wire work that has been oxidized to bring out the details. I will keep searching.

Tip: Enhance that Rainbow

One of my good friends and talented jewelry artists told me that she will add a little ammonia and pinch of table salt to the LOS and this will really help bring out that rainbow effect. You must be aware that this effect is not permanent. It will wear away if rubbed against skin, clothing, or anything else like that. Also, the metal will continue to naturally oxidize and it will lose the effect. You can coat your piece with a clear spray or even use a wax product, but it will remove or diminish the rainbow effect as it impedes how the light hits the metal.

Tool Time Tuesday – Liver of Sulfur and Silver Black

Well this is the first of my new weekly post for Tool Time Tuesday. Every Tuesday I will feature a review of a tool or product that I use in my art work. I will be working with Jeanette from

For the first review I thought I would tell you about a new product that I use a lot in my work, Liver of Sulfur. Liver of Sulfur is a stinky chemical that you can use to add an antiqued look to jewelry. It can be used to bring out the highlights of intricate wire work or make stamped textures pop on a particular piece. There is another product I like to use called Silver Black made by Griffith. It isn’t as stinky, but certainly much more dangerous to use if not done properly.

The first picture shows some of the tools and chemicals I will be using. In this case I will use the two outer products. We will talk about a newer product, shown on the right which is Liver of Sulfur (LOS) in gel form. The two middle containers contain LOS in rock form. Today was the first time I have ever used the gel form. It is a bit more expensive than the rock form, but not much and it’s ease of use more than makes up for that.


Notice that I have a few other very important tools…. rubber gloves and plastic tongs. It is important that you respect the chemicals you are working with. Avoid having direct contact with your skin. I would also suggest that you might wear an apron or something to cover your clothing. Always work in a well ventilated area.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

This picture shows the two forms of LOS. The rocks in the container on the right are a little bit large and I will break those up before using them. I typically go for pieces about the size of a pea. This stuff smells like rotten eggs, so just be prepared.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

To use the LOS you need WARM/HOT water. The warmer your water, the quicker your results will be. You can see I am just using a plastic container. You can also use a small crock pot or glass jar. I will use the little wooden stir stick to add my gel LOS to the hot water. It is pretty cold here in Ohio and my water isn’t as hot as I would like it to be today, so I expect that things might take a couple of extra minutes.

The directions on the container say to mix 1 tsp per 12 oz of water. I won’t be using that much water as I am only doing a small batch of jewelry so I will just eye it. The mixture will turn a yellow/green. The more green the solution, the more concentrated it is. I dip the little wooden stir stick into the gel and stir it into the hot water. I had to add it a couple of times.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

The solution I have mixed up is a very light yellow/green indicating that it is a pretty dilute solution. I could add more to it, but for now I am going to give this a try to see what happens. As soon as I add my pieces the copper begins to react with the chemical. Copper will turn dark much faster than silver will. Even in the picture you can see that the silver is beginning to react with the LOS.

I find that if I warm the piece up before adding it to the solution it will also take the patina much faster. Often, I will run my piece under hot water before putting it into the solution. And I will also pull the piece out of the solution, run it under HOT water and then place it back into the solution again. This increases the rainbow effects on the silver too.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

Here are three pieces after just a minute or two in the LOS. At this time, my solution is very dilute and not very “hot.”  But I am still getting some really good color. I took one piece, ran it under hot water and placed it back in the LOS while moving to the next part of my post.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

I am now going to work with the Silver Black solution. Notice the little skull and cross bones? They aren’t kidding about this stuff. You must work in a ventilated area and notice that I am also working with rubber gloves. I have had this little container for a couple of years now and you can barely tell that I have even used any at all. A little bit goes a VERY long way.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

I have dipped the tip of my paint brush into the bottle and brushed lightly one time across the surface of the silver and copper. The effect is immediate. There are no rainbow effects with this one, it just goes straight to black/gray. Once you get the patina you like, run it under water to rinse the piece off.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

The piece on the left was done in LOS. The middle was done with the Silver Black. And the one on the right, hasn’t had anything at all yet.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

Here is a better picture between the LOS and Silver Black. You can see the LOS left me with a rainbow shimmer. While it is pretty, it doesn’t keep for very long.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

I don’t want to keep the dark patina, but rather use it to highlight the details of my piece. There are a couple of things that I can use to remove it from the high spots in my pieces. Here I have used #0000 Steel Wool that I purchased at my local hardware store. You can also use pumice powder on a damp tooth brush, sand paper, or even sanding discs on a flexshaft or dremel.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

The end result is a piece with a beautiful warm copper color with the text and texture of the pieces brought out in greater detail.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

So where can you purchase these items? There are a number of places. I purchased my two forms of LOS from I had purchased my Silver Black years ago from Contenti, but I just noticed that also supplies this.

Disposal of the LOS: You can leave the LOS out in the open and as it cools it will neutralize and then can be dumped down the drain. I usually put the container in the sink and turn on the water and just let it over flow the container until the water runs clear.

Does LOS keep? Nope. I find that I can extend the life a bit by keeping it in an air tight container. But it only keeps for a couple of days. It will also develop a white-ish film on the top as it neutralizes.

The gel form of LOS has a pretty long shelf life will keep for several years. It is just once it has been mixed with the water that it loses its effectiveness.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and I will be sure to address them here on the blog. Also If you have a specific tool you would like to know about, let me know. I am making a list and can’t wait to share some of my other insights with you.

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Happy New Year 2010!

This year is off to a busy start. I hope that everyone had a good holiday. As many of you know the end of the years are always a bit more difficult for me. This year was a good one, but one in which we still really miss our little Angel Kelsi. I am currently working on a piece for a good friend and myself that I hope to have done this week to show. I was really hoping to have it done by her birthday, but it didn’t happen. I will post more about it when it is finished.

Where am I going with this jewelry stuff?

I have been thinking about my business, blog, jewelry and just life and trying to figure out which direction to take things. I have so many things I would like to do, but I don’t want my home life to suffer in trying to accomplish them. I haven’t quite figured everything out yet, but hopefully I will be able to soon.

Year of Jewelry, Ohio JMAG, Gemology

I have signed up for the Year of Jewelry Challenge once again. For the first time since starting the challenge, in which we make a piece of jewelry every week for the entire year, I did not complete it. This past year was one in which there were some very large events going on. Between being gone to Indonesia and helping my mother as she dealt with breast cancer I was gone for nearly two months there alone. I am not even sure that I have photographed 52 pieces of jewelry this past year. The Ohio Jewelry and Metal Arts Guild is another venture that has taken up MUCH of my time. We have some great things coming up this year and I am looking forward to it.

I have started training to become a gemologist and have recently earned the Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.) diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). I have quite a bit of work to do to earn my Graduate Gemologist diploma, but working hard on it all the same.

Tool Time Tuesdays

Starting tomorrow, January 5th I will be starting a new weekly blog post here on my blog called Tool Time Tuesdays. I am teaming up with a friend of mine that has a fabulous online jewelry supply shop, Every Tuesday we will select a tool that we use
and love, or hate. We will review the uses, benefits and drawbacks. We will provide our opinion of the tool and tell you where you can purchase the tool or perhaps even how to make it.

I have also been thinking of doing studio spotlights. I need to think about how to make this one work a little more, but sometimes it is so much fun to see how others work and get to know them a little bit better also.

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First Jewelry of the Year

I am actually off to a fairly decent start this year. I have just finished a few pieces today. The first is a “Rewind button” for a friend of mine that is going through a difficult time. I have a few other “buttons” that I am going to try out just as soon as I get off of the computer. So you will probably see a few more of them tomorrow.  The second piece is a pair of earrings I made as a custom order. There are 24 little crystals in these earrings. The wire used is only 26 gauge – that is really thin. They are about 2″ long. The last picture is a small army of angels I made for another friend on a custom order.

Melissa Muir Jewelry

Melissa Muir Jewelry
Melissa Muir Jewelry

Melissa Muir Jewelry

Well, that is it for tonight. Good night all, and I will “talk” with you tomorrow with our First Tool Time Tuesday!