I made half a dozen copper necklaces last week and placed them together in a liver of sulfur (LOS) solution to apply a dark patina. A friend was visiting and I wanted to show her how the entire process worked. I pulled one of the necklaces from the solution, placed it in baking soda to neutralize the LOS and gave it a rinse. With a little elbow grease, I demonstrated how the patina can be removed with steel wool, leaving some darkness in the crevices between the wires. The contrast of the shiny and dark copper highlight the design.
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By the time I got around to pulling the remaining pieces out of the solution, they were covered with a thick black crusty coating on the copper. Heavy sigh. I wish I thought to take pictures to share with you. It took me forever, almost two hours apiece, to remove the black coating from each piece. By the time I was ready to scrub the final necklace, it dawned on me there may be an easier way…eureka there was!
There are several chemicals that can be used to reverse the LOS reaction, but I decided to use a safe home remedy. I heated a cup of vinegar in the microwave. Then I placed it in a disposable container and added a tablespoon of salt. Next came the necklace, as I dipped it in and waited about ½ hour. Amazing! The black coating was removed by the acid in the vinegar reacting with the heat and salt!
I pulled the necklace out before all of the black coating was gone to preserve some of the patina. I applied baking soda and rinsed it well. A gentle scrubbing with steel wool allowed the darker color to remain in the crevices. Oh this was incredibly easy…and to think I spent so many hours removing the black coating from the other necklaces by hand!
At this point, it looked different than the other pieces. Aside from the more subtle patina, the copper itself was now almost pink in color. Look at the difference between these pieces:
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The next day I applied a wax finish to the necklaces to protect them from the elements. When I started working on that last necklace, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Inside the crevices was an ugly green copper patina…ugh! I had to take it apart, clean the metal, apply the wax and then reassemble it. So much for saving time.
What’s the lesson learned? Do not leave jewelry pieces in liver of sulfur, or any other patina solution, longer than a few minutes unless you truly want them to turn solid black. Removing them sooner will produce a dark patina but won’t require a significant amount of effort to scrub off the excess.
Here are pictures of the other finished necklaces…
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Okay, these are much better pictures…
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All together now…
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They look runway ready, don’t you think?