Background Antique

I’m wondering if Background Antique - Grobet USA by VIGOR is the same
as liver of sulfur and can be used the same. It says on the bottle
"after electroplating, brush on…". I can’t electroplate and
wouldn’t know how; but could I use this the same as the purple
patina, by heating the silver with hot water & brushing it on? Would
appreciate any help. Donna

Having read your thank you note I fished up your unanswered query and
have concluded that you really should get in touch with your
supplier…it seems to me that the instruction that you should
"apply after electroplating" is kind of quirky…I’ve never seen it
before ! It could well be that your solution is meant to be used only
in special applications. As far as I know, liver of sulfur is on the
naughty list as far as shipping goes. Actually, the best of the
oxidising solutions have disappeared over the years as more stringent
safety rules have been instigated. Many manufacturers use various
forms of black paint as a background …in my opinion, a very tacky
solution to the problem. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

A very gentle, extremely smelly and very messy way of putting a
gentle patina on silver is to allow an egg to go bad and break it into
a bowl (gag retch!) an place the item into it for a while. It can take
48 hours or so to go really black but it’s cheap. it works and there
are no hazardous shipping charges. Just don’t do it anywhere near me!

You needn’t wait for an egg to go bad to get a patina on silver. If
you hard boil an ordinary egg and apply the yolk like a paste onto
your silver piece it’ll darken. It’s the sulfur that does it. Dee

A very gentle, extremely smelly and very messy way of putting a
gentle patina on silver is to allow an egg to go bad and break it into
a bowl (gag retch!) 

Dear Yuck and urk, You can do exactly the same thing without all the
retching and trauma by popping into your friendly neighbourhood
garden shop and buying a little bottle of ‘lime sulphur’ which they
sell for treating fungus on shrubs. I have no idea what the brand name
would be, but just ask for what I suggested above. It is in fact,
calcium polysulphide, and has exactly the same properties as liver of
sulphur, which is potassium polysulphide and of course rotten egg.
All give off hydrogen sulphide, hence the disgusting smell. Use the
calcium salt exactly as you would ‘liver of sulphur’ It’s cheaper and
far more easily available. In the long ago days when I was a naughty
little boy (I’m, no longer little) one could use one’s pocket money to
go to the joke shop and buy stink bombs to be crushed underfoot in the
cinema, or the schoolroom etc. They were thin glass bulbs, and
contained one of the sulphides; potassium, sodium, calcium, or
ammonium. I of course, would never dream of doing such a thing. I
couldn’t afford stink bombs. I heated a mix of iron filings and
sulphur, put the black powder in a packet made of greaseproof paper,
added a little vinegar, shoved it through an enemy’s letterbox - and
ran. But do forget about the rotten eggs, eh? Cheers,-- John
Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

I’ve been told you can get the same effect by putting into a jar of
real mayonnaise. Let sit at least a day. Check, age appropriately.
Remove, rinse, toss mayonnaise.

Hello all,

I’ve been working for a craft shop a long while ago.I moved to
another area far away from this place,but anyway here is the
story.This craftshop had a nice display doing nothing except
collecting dust.I changed it into a nice (closed!) display with some
silver ring made for the shop and used all kinds of rough stones as a
decoration.I found some really nice pyrite stone here in Germany and
placed them next to the silver rings.After some days,all the silver
ring had a nice patinated shine(which I hated … I needed to clean
them all).However this is really a kind of aging but it takes time
and those stones didn’t cost me anything. I don’t know if you could
turn these stones into stinking bombs,but that’s another story.For
what it’s worth it.

Regards Pedro

Hi Pedro,

You’re absolutely right: you can effect an ionic change in the
surfaces of most reactive metals by placing them next to Pyrite,
Bornite, Chalcopyrite, Galena, Sphalerite or any other Sulfide
mineral specimen(s), overnite, since the barely-oxidized “skins” on
the purified metals attract the Sulfur ions away from their "homes"
in the minerals. Your story raises a question in my (neophyte
metalsmith’s) mind, though: are the majority of the patinas I’ve
seen, through the years, all the result of “painted” finishes like
Liver of Sulfur? (In other words, are these truly patinas, or are
they just cosmetic “face-lifts” which can crack and peel, over time?)
If they’re the latter, wouldn’t it be an awful lot simpler (not to
mention more consistently repeatable) to make a 5-10% Sulfuric Acid
bath for those pieces we’d like to see patinated and to then time the
durations of exposure, so as to produce a variety of different
patinas – which could then be buffed-out, in places, to achieve more
dramatic compositions – so that we could better predict their
results? (Comments, anyone?)

Best Regards,
Doug Turet