Thursday, October 27, 2011

Instant Patina

My supply of liver of sulphur came in handy once again as I worked on some necklaces for my Woodmere Art Museum order.
Liver of sulphur is a mixture of potassium oxides and is used to create an instant patina on sterling silver and copper.
I have had the same can of liver of sulphur for years and take care to keep it sealed. If your supply gets wet, it becomes 'deactivated' and will not yield good results.
A small chip of liver of sulphur was added to a container of warm water, and once the chip dissolved, I added my newly finished briolette necklaces made with sterling, pearls and semi-precious gemstone briolettes.
The necklace on the left shows how the necklaces looked after being submerged for approximately one minute.
While I do like this darkened gunmetal patina for some pieces, I wanted something a bit brighter and reflective for these necklaces. All surfaces of the sterling chain, rings, wire and clasp were lightly sanded with a foam sanding block to selectively remove areas of the dark patina.
The necklace on the right is now completed after 15 minutes of careful sanding.
Many jewelers use sanding sticks or hand held pieces of sand paper, but I prefer to use foam sanding blocks. The block is much easier to grasp than a piece of sand paper, and I like how the foam can compress slightly making it easier to make contact with different surface of a completed piece.
I purchase my sanding blocks at hardware stores and always get the finest grit that is available.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting Ready

I have been so busy in my studio, getting ready for the upcoming holiday season.
I'm working on an order for Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill where a wonderful, expanded gift shop is set up in one of the galleries for the months of November and December.
I am also getting ready for the upcoming juried shows at Main Line Art Center in Haverford and Community Arts Center in Wallingford.
I'm going to need lots of inventory to cover three venues at the same time, so I'm busy, busy, busy!
Last night's efforts included corrugating annealed copper strips which will be riveted onto some of my etched bangles, etched silver nickel sheets and soldered sterling wire hoops.
I thought that the sterling hoops would be a quick, simple task, but....they were such a pain!
I used paste solder and a small torch, and took great care to make sure that the end of my wire met flush. In spite of my prep work, the heat of the torch deformed the rings ever so slightly. That ever so slightly amount of deforming was enough to create a teeny gap where I previously had a flush connection.
Anyone who has done soldering knows what that means....failure!
After a few attempts, I did get the solder to flow where I wanted it to flow, but only on around half of the rings. Something to work on.
More etching was done on brass bangles. These have had only the initial cleaning with a brass wire brush after being submerged in a baking soda bath. Filing and sanding will complete the cleaning before I start adding riveted layers.