Quite a bit has changed since I did much silversmithing and as I
again try to pick it up a little, I am excited about some of the
things that I did not know about 30+ years ago. I was hoping that
perhaps some in this group might be able to answer a few questions
that have come up or perhaps refer me to reference material.
I have seen where by adding ammonia to liver of sulfur solution,
people are able to get a fairly wide range of colors, including
golds and blues and purples on silver. I intend to experiment with
this, but would love to hear from anyone who has already learned how
to make this work. I also wondered about how liver of sulphur, with
and without ammonia, works on argentium, something that did not
exist when I last did much of this.
John - if you would search the orchid archives for Iridescent patina,
you would get many references to the multi-color patina that you
In some of my experiments, I’ve also added iodized table salt. Other
chemistry to try - these are all from the pharmacy/drug store -
iodine, magnesium, potassium - any of the individual elements that
folks add to their diet.
Especially important - do this on a very clean textured surface.
I do my coloring with the patina at room temperature - it slows up
the color development so you can see what’s happening and stop it
with a cold water dip.
I have a story to share with you – years ago, when I was teaching
in an old, old classroom, we had a sink with only cold water. I had a
student who wanted hot water to mix up her liver of sulfur and for
that purpose, we had a coffee pot (to make the hot water) in the
classroom. We also used it for coffee. At the time she wanted the hot
water, we had an almost full coffee pot and even after several
requests, there was still over half left. I recommended she wait for
a bit and it will be taken – or she could dump the coffee and make
the hot water to mix her LOS –
Instead, she used the coffee – and got the most wonderful colors!
We repeated the process and were able to get the same! I don’t know
what is doing it, but it results in the most wonderful reds, blues,
greens and some yellows. Caffeinated and decaf both work, but it has
to be brewed. Instant does nothing. The colors are so much better and
dependable than using ammonia or baking soda – both of which I have
I have been waiting forever to be a contributor to this wonderful
forum. So many have so much knowledge, I am always hesitant to add my
two cents – so glad I could help on this one!
I have added ammonia to Liver of Sulphur, and had great colors. I
find, though, that the key to these colors is a weak solution. A
strong solution will go straight to black. Weaker solutions have
overtones, and other colors.
Liver of Sulphur, and other patinas that work on traditional
Sterling, also work on Argentium Sterling.