Simple techniques for oxidizing silver.

I wanted a simple version of my animal and artifact necklaces. Sterling silver chain was an obvious solution. But the bright shiny sterling just didn’t go well with my little ancient-looking artifacts.

One day I was browsing a chic little store on Charles Street in Boston, and was captivated by a line of metal jewelry. The line design was simple and clean. The chains were BLACK. They looked wonderful!

I couldn’t figure out what the metal was, til I realized it was oxidized sterling silver. I knew I had my chain solution.

I’d done a wee bit of oxidation in the past, using traditional liver of sulfur. But it was difficult to use, smelly and tended to age out in between bouts of oxidation.

I searched online and found simple oxidation techniques using cooked egg yolks. It worked. But it was hard to control the process, it was time-consuming, and it just seemed wasteful to use up a carton of eggs for larger batches.

I finally found this terrific product: Patina Gel from Cool Tools. It’s liver of sulfer in a gel form. Its shelf life is loooooong, and it’s incredibly easy to use, even in small batches.

I’ve only used it on sterling and fine silver. But the bottle says you can also use it on brass, bronze and copper.

One of my favorite supply companies, Rings & Things in Spokane, WA, carries this product now. I even bought it in the larger size so I’ll never run out!

So that’s tip #1.

Tip #2 is silly, but hey, it works. Today I needed to oxidize a very tiny batch of items–an old sterling ring I took apart for the components. I’d just done a large batch of items the day before, in a small plastic storage container, so I couldn’t batch the items up with other items. And even the small plastic container was overly large for my purpose.

It occurred to me to use a small ziplock bag instead. And it works GREAT!

I used a 3″x3″ bag, put the items in it, put about an eighth of a cup of water in (maybe less) and a drop or two of the patina gel. I sealed the bag, squished it gently to mix the water and gel, and let it set.

Voila! A tiny batch of nicely-oxidized components at my fingertips!

Now if I can just remember where I set it down…..

Patina Gel--One of my favorite tools!
Fun freebies, like this ruler, from Rings & Things.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

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