Lately I’ve been having a very frustrating time, trying to polish a
piece made up of many interlinked silver knots. (Some of you may have
seen it, it’s the knotted chain-mail shirt that I’ve been working on
for the last few years.)
The problem is that as it has grown larger, it’s also become
extremely difficult to polish. My latest tumbler is a five-gallon
chamber mounted in the barrel of a small cement-mixer, which appears
to work fine, at least from the outside. However, the shirt bundles
itself up and doesn’t let the media flow through it easily. Even when
it does, though, it doesn’t seem to be doing much of a job on the
silver that is exposed to it.
I’ve added some fresh material just lately, and those areas are
brilliantly white metal, visibly contrasting with the older links,
even after six hours in the abrasive media. I boiled the shirt in
citric acid overnight, and you can still see the difference between
the old and new. I even used the washing-soda and aluminum foil
method, but still no luck.
I know the material is the same (fine silver, 999) and the areas
where I repair broken links in the body turn nice and white under the
torch, so now I wonder if I’m going to have to just play the flame
over the whole shirt to get rid of the age patina.
It’s not as if the thing looks bad with that patina on it, in fact,
it’s great, but I want the whole thing to be the same color again.
Ideally, brilliantly polished pure silver color, but I’m willing to
compromise. I’ve got a week and a half before my next occasion where
I’ll be wearing the shirt in public.