Liver of sulphur is an inexpensive and easy way to antiquing your
metal clay pieces. It only takes a few minutes and can be removed
with silver polish or by refiring if you decide it doesn’t work.
- Prepare your piece
Once your piece of silver is fired, polish or burnish the surface so
that all the white fired finish has gone. Make sure you get into all
the nooks and crannies: if any white remains the antiquing solution
will not take to the area, and those harder-to-reach recessed areas
are exactly where you want the liver of sulphur to work to get the
Your piece must be squeaky clean and free from dirt or oils from
your hands. Scrub gently with a toothbrush in warm soapy water.
- Mixing the liver of sulphur
It’s advisable to wear rubber gloves when handling it, as it can
cause an allergic reaction. Should any of the solution get onto your
skin wash it off with water, and if any irritation occurs consult
Work near in a well ventilated area as the mixture smells like
rotten eggs. Take a non-metallic container such as a Pyrex dish or
an old mug (no longer used for drinking) and fill it with enough hot
tap water to cover your silver piece. Add a pea size lump of liver
of sulphur and stir the mixture until it is a yellow colour.
- Applying the liver of sulphur
If you want the whole piece to have an antique effect, immerse the
whole thing in the liver of sulphur. Use a pair of tweezers to dunk
it in, so you don’t get it on your hands. Alternatively, use a
paintbrush to paint on sections of your work. Have a small bowl of
soapy water to hand to rinse the antiqued piece. This should stop
the liver of sulphur from continuing to work. Dry with a piece of
- To obtain a range of colours
Have the hot water running at the sink. Heat the piece under the
water until it’s as hot as the hottest water you can stand to put
your hand in. The heat is the secret to the colour changes.
As you paint or dab it with the brush, it very quickly goes through
the colour changes as you watch.
When you get a burst of colour you love, stick it back in the water
instantly: this stops any more changes. Keep touching up where
When your piece is the colour you want it, wash with liquid soap and
water, rinse and dry.
- Finishing the piece
For best results, polish the antiqued piece with a polishing cloth
Liver of Sulphur in lump form will keep 6-12 months if kept in a
cool, dark place. Store in a non-porous plastic or ceramic container
and keep out of reach of children and pets.
If you’d like to learn more about working with silver metal clay,
then come and look at the online jewellery courses available at:
All courses give you expert video and written tuition, personal
feedback, advice from industry insiders and opportunities to share
your work on a wider scale. You’ll also get exclusive access to our
Mastered Meets series of webinars which feature leading jewellery