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Depletion gilding problems

Hi all,

I’ve been trying to get the hang of depletion gilding silver and am
not having much luck. I’ve been following instructions from Orchid
and from a recent article in Art Jewelry magazine, which say
basically the same thing: heat up the silver until it turns black,
pickle, rinse, repeat. The thing is, when I try this, it only seems
to work on the first go-round. After that, the silver will no longer
turn black, even if I heat it up to a glowing cherry red. (I’ve been
practicing on scraps, mind, not finished pieces.)

What am I doing wrong? Just how bushy/yellow should my flame be?
Should I use a firecoat, or not? Or should I just throw in the towel
and buy some Argentium ™ ?

Many thanks for your advice,

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, Ohio

It’s ok if the silver doesn’t turn black. The fire coat gets thicker
anyhow. It doesn’t hurt to brass brush the silver between heatings.

marilyn smith

Your silver is turning less black because the depletion guilding is
working. The more copper you strip from the surface of the metal, the
less the metal will oxidize.

I always use this method:

No flux. Lay you metal down flat on a piece of firebrick. Travel
constantly around the surface of the metal untill the piece is evenly
heated. Early on in the process, you can see the rainbow colors
around the torch tip as the metal heats. As the guilding progresses
through many heatings and picklings, thie torch coloring will be less
visible. The area around the torch tip will eventually stop showing
color differences around the 5th or 6th pickling. I find that I
rarely need to keep going beyond 6 or 7 picklings. After the color
change becomes less visible when heating, you will begin to notice
very subtle changes in the texture of the surface of the metal while
heating, and very little else will de noticible. Make sure you are
in a room that is not too brightly lit, and dont
overheat your metal. Good luck!!

Jessee -

Here is what I do. First no firecoat. The purpose of these is to
prevent oxidation. You want to create copper oxides then remove them
by pickling.

I do not follow the advice you were given. I heat the metal till it
reaches an annealing temperature (dull red), let it cool, (which
usually greys the metal) then pickle it (I am using pH-down,
warmed). I am depletion guilding for Keum-boo so I repeat the process
several times (5-6). By the time I am done (I do about 10 pieces at
a time), my pickle is quite blue.

The more repetitions you do, the less grey the metal will get with
each heating but the whiter the metal will appear when it comes out
of the pickle.

I hope this helps -
Debby

Hi Jessee,

The thing is, when I try this, it only seems to work on the first
go-round. After that, the silver will no longer turn black, even if
I heat it up to a glowing cherry red. 

To see the black coating develop, you have to wave the flame off of
the piece periodically. If you hold the flame straight on the piece
throughout, you will never see it until it’s too late – as in
heating it to cherry red! You don’t want it to get that hot. Also,
use a fairly bushy, not a super hot flame.

Beth

   No flux. Lay you metal down flat on a piece of firebrick.
Travel constantly around the surface of the metal untill the piece
is evenly heated. 

Do you mark your metal on one side so that you consistently heat the
same side? or do you alternate? or have you found that it makes any
difference?

I was taught to mark one side (a small scratched “x” in one corner
was sufficient) and then always put that side down. This has always
worked for me and I also generally heat the metal 6 or 7 times.

Do you mark your metal on one side so that you consistently heat
the same side? or do you alternate? or have you found that it
makes any difference? 

Ive never marked my metal, but it sounds like a good idea. I dont
think I have ever used metal thick enough to make much of a
difference. I tend to use 18ga or thinner for most projects. I
depletion guild almost everything I make because I love the color so
much, so milky and beautiful.

Do you mark your metal on one side so that you consistently heat
the same side? or do you alternate? or have you found that it makes
any difference? 

Kay I usually heat both sides of the metal during each heating
cycle. Then there is no reason to mark the metal.

I will slowly heat one side until the sterling slightly changes
colour. I try not to get it all the way up to dull red. I will remove
the heat just before it gets there.

I then flip the piece over and gently heat it for a few seconds until
the reverse side also changes colour. Since sterling is such a good
conductor of heat it does not take long for the second side to come
up to the correct temperature.

Also, I generally do not lay the silver flat. I prop it up against
the fire brick so that there is air circulating behind it. Don’t know
if it makes any difference, but it is the way I learned to do it and
it always works.

Takes about 5-10 heating, quenching and pickling cycles before the
silver is well coated and develops a very uniform layer of white.
This is the way I prepare silver for keumboo.

Regards
Milt Fischbein
Calgary Alberta Canada