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