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Easiest antique finish on silver


#1

What is the easiest way to apply an antique finish to the recessed
area’s of a sterling silver piece. I have tried the Grobet product
that you paint on and let dry. With horrible results, this process
does not work for what I am trying to do. I know there is a simple
acid, or chemical used to turn the silver instantly black or dark
antique. but what is it??? Please let me know if you can help !

Thank you
jb


#2

Jax Black or Midas Black Max from Rio Grande may be what you are
looking for. Also liver of sulphur. It is a less toxic way to go.

Laney


#3

Hello jb,

For the past 25 years I’ve been using Tech-ox “P” made by Technic:
http://www.technic.com/home.htm.

I have yet to find a chemical that comes close to the patina this
one imparts. Warning: it’s really nasty stuff:

http://apps.risd.edu/envirohealth_msds/techoxp.pdf

Use adequate ventilation and a respirator. Tech-ox “P” soaks into the
pores of the metal, giving silver and its alloys a deep, dark gray -
black finish that will not rub off. You can use it cold and it has a
long shelf life. As a restoration & conservation specialist, the
patinas I reapply to antique objects must look authentic. Find it
here:

http://www.technic.com/

Jeff Herman
http://www.hermansilver.com


#4

i’ve used household bleach when out of liver of sulphur.


#5

Hi

Liver of Sulphur is what you need or use Extended Life Gel, here is
the manufactures link: http://xlgel.net/

Mandy
www.litteloveprints.com


#6
I have tried the Grobet product that you paint on and let dry. 

James, if you want the oxidized silver look, use either liver of
sulfur or Winox or similar. That is the soft, grey finish that many
use, and it will happen naturally, too. If you want the deep black
that school rings and the like have, then use the Grobet paint, but
use it properly, and it works fine.

Paint the work where you want it painted, don’t worry so much about
getting it elsewhere, and let it dry. Get a paper towel wetted with
acetone, and wipe it down so the paint is only left where you want
it. Then bake it under a hot lamp or something like that. Then wipe
it again with acetone, which should remove the glaze that can be
left behind. The biggest secret is that you can’t wipe it when the
paint is wet, as it will just wick up into your towel. Let it dry
(just till it looks dry), wipe down your highlights, and it works
just fine…


#7
i've used household bleach when out of liver of sulphur. 

…Gack…

Please don’t.

Bleach doesn’t give you a nice black antique. it gives you a blotchy
crude grey cruddy surface. If that’s what you want, fine. But
usually, one wants a nicely developed patina between a matte dull
black to a burnished blue/black (the difference is if you burnish the
original dull black with a soft brass brush, you get the more
metallic (and I think, richer) blue/black color.

You can use liver of sulphur, or any of several commercially sold
silver oxidizing solutions (small bottles are a lot cheaper than a
can of liver of sulphur). Or the newest variant on liver of sulphur,
a gel version with longer shelf life, and a lower price for the small
size jar. Works very well.

All of these are relatively easy to use.
Peter Rowe


#8
What is the easiest way to apply an antique finish to the recessed
area's of a sterling silver piece. 

James, You are looking for an “Oxidizer”. At Rio, you can buy “Midas
Black Magic” it does a nice job and will turn silver jet black. Just
brush A LITTLE on and wash the piece when finished. That being said,
liver of sulfur, bleach,… a lot of stuff is out there that will
oxidize silver… AIR! Ha!

If you don’t want a really black then weaken a little of the Midas
and you can get beautiful grays. I also use bleach for grays
sometimes. Even Lemon Juice is good in some instances but takes
awhile.

Hope this helps. Dan.


http://www.dearmondtool.com


#9

Hi James,

I always use Liver of Sulfur. It isn’t always fast, and can take a
while to get totally black, but it IS lasting, and you can halt it
at your desired color. Run a search in the Archives for it, there is
a TON of I am sure, here with tips in it’s use.

Teresa


#10

my reply to the original post, is not like most of the others and
yours, that pretty much say the same thing…liver of sulphur. …
there are alternatives. “one” shouldn’t stifle dialog by telling
someone to not do something.

knocking a different approach isn’t going to be productive. it was a
vague and general question, all responses should be considered.

“antique finish” conjures a very wide spectrum of subjective
choices…also, “antiquing” isn’t confined to just the use of
chemicals.

Bleach doesn't give you a nice black antique. it gives you a
blotchy crude grey cruddy surface. 

i hope that was the single result of you trying it. i get results
much differently than you describe. of course YM/KMV black is just a
’colour’. with some dilution [a normal procedure with most colouring
reagents in a variety of applications], multiple shades are possible.
learning by experimenting is foundational.

hth,
richard


#11

I have used “silver black” (get it from RIO) and I paint the recesses
of my piece with a fine tip paintbrush dipped in silver black.

Yours,
Sharon


#12
That being said, liver of sulfur, bleach,... a lot of stuff is out
there that will oxidize silver... AIR! Ha! 

Blackening of the silver is a really big subject. The problem is not
only to obtain the color, but to make it durable enough for wear.
Here is one of the ways to do it, but before the recipe a bit of
background.

Does everyone know why there is a silverware? In case someone does
not, it is to indicate if there is a poison in food or drink. The
winemaker cup, or cellar master cup are always made from silver,
because formation of cyanide in wine was a real possibility in Middle
Ages, and every wine tasting could be your last. Silver will go black
even if a trace of cyanide is present.

Before Safety Police is going to send out squad after me, I am not
going to recommend usage of cyanide, at least not in direct way.

There is an old rule, which widely know to people from South America
and not so much to the rest of the world. When one cooks Lima Beans,
cover must be off. The reason is that Lima Beans naturally contain
cyanide. If you cooked with closed cover, it will concentrate in your
stew. Not necessarily a good idea, but does provides us metalsmith
with the source of the relatively safe form of the chemical.

Prepare your Lima Beans in pressure cooker, SPECIALLY DEDICATED FOR
THIS PURPOSE, with only enough water to form a paste, and apply this
paste to your silver with a brush. Timing depends on particular
preparation. Build color in layers with rinsing and wire brushing in
between.

One thing is that in recent years farmers were trying to breed out
the gene responsible for cyanide formation with different degrees of
success, so results can vary depending on source of Lima Beans. Some
times, to help the process along, brush some vinegar on silver
before applying the paste.

Safety could be a concern, so wear protection like gloves, goggles
and etc… ! Wash your hands afterwards, and do not use in large
quantities! Do it either under the hood, or outside! Do not breathe
the vapors!

The best antidote for cyanide is whole milk, so have some on hand.
It is always a good idea after working with these types of recipes,
to drink a glass of whole milk, whether exposure occurred or not.

And the most important advice, if you have no experience working
with dangerous chemicals, do not do it at all.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13
my reply to the original post, is not like most of the others and
yours, that pretty much say the same thing...liver of sulphur....
there are alternatives. "one" shouldn't stifle dialog by telling
someone to not do something. knocking a different approach isn't
going to be productive. it was a vague and general question, all
responses should be considered. 

All patinas are corrosion products. The patina agent corrodes the
metal surface leaving a reaction product behind. That said there are
very good reasons not to use bleach on any jewelry, the chlorine in
it makes it a very aggressive compound. It attacks the metals
structure, it can initiate stress corrosion cracking in some jewelry
alloys resulting in catastrophic failures such as prongs cracking
off. On silver it etches the surface and leaves a silver chloride
reaction product that turns dark when exposed to light (sun or enough
UV). I have found it to be less stable (abrasion resistant) than the
silver sulfide based patina surface produced by liver of sulfur or
other sulfides.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#14
my reply to the original post, is not like most of the others and
yours, that pretty much say the same thing...liver of sulphur....
there are alternatives. "one" shouldn't stifle dialog by telling
someone to not do something. 

I was not trying to stifle dialog. Experimentation and trying
alternatives are vital to learning the craft. But in this case, there
are a number of reasons why bleach is a poor idea. For one, it simply
doesn’t work as well if the aim is the classic antiqued look, which
was the posters request, I believe. For another, bleach can actually
be damaging to the metal itself. More so for golds, especially white
golds, than for silver, but silver is not immune.

knocking a different approach isn't going to be productive. it was
a vague and general question, all responses should be considered. 

OK, but bringing attention to problems with such a different
approach should also not be discouraged.

"antique finish" conjures a very wide spectrum of subjective
choices...also, "antiquing" isn't confined to just the use of
chemicals. 

That’s true. But the classic antique look is to duplicate the look
that occurs naturally with silver. That is the developement of black
sulphides, which can form a reasonably durable and uniform black
color. Bleach simply does not do that. While it can make the metal
look old, corroded, or otherwise not new, it is not normally the look
intended when people talk about antiquing silver. Of course, if you
like the look you get with bleach, then by all means, use it.

Bleach doesn’t give you a nice black antique. it gives you a
blotchy crude grey cruddy surface.

i hope that was the single result of you trying it. i get results
much differently than you describe. of course YM/KMV black is just
a 'colour'. with some dilution [a normal procedure with most
colouring reagents in a variety of applications], multiple shades
are possible. learning by experimenting is foundational. 

Here’s the thing. Bleach gives you silver chlorides on the surface.
Copper chlorides too, but they’re soluable, so silver chloride, which
is insoluable in water (or bleach) is what’s left on the surface as a
corrosion product. It’s the fact that it IS insoluable that prevents
the corrosion from continuing further, but one problem is that
because the surface film is porous, [some] continued action can
occur, with the bleach attacking the crystal boundaries in the
metal. That can lead, even significantly later, to cracking of the
metal. People who wear their jewelry a lot while swimming in
chlorinated water sometimes find this out to their dismay, with
things like white gold prongs cracking off, leaving diamonds on the
bottom of the pool. But I’ve also seen a few cases of silver jewelry
also inexplicably being crumbly and cracky, and finding that the
owner often wore the piece in the pool. Draw your own conclusions if
you like, but this is one of the big reasons I don’t like the use of
bleach at all, with any jewelry metals, even if you can get a certain
finished look with it.

And as to that look, silver chloride is initially white in color. So
the initial color bleach normally gives is in the grey range, not
black. But silver chloride is also photo sensative. It will turn
black on exposure to light. Not exceptionally fast, so the speed and
degree with which it will darken will vary depending on your studio
lighting. Also, the layer of silver chloride is not especially well
adhered to the surface. It’s much more easily damaged by abrasion and
wear than the black sulphide tarnish or intentionally applied black
antique.

My prior post should not be construed as binding on anyone. It’s
just my (strong) opinion. If you disagree, fine. But I do maintain
that just as it’s fine for you to suggest alternative methods if you
like them, it’s also fine for me to object to them if I have what I
feel is a reasonable reason to do so.

My own experiments at using bleach for an antique produced finishes
that indeed did not look like new, nice silver. The result, I think,
ends up looking a bit more like an unpickled, unfinished cast
surface. “Dingy/dark” is the best description I can think of. And a
bit unpredictable. Now on some work that may well be a desirable
effect, and if so, it may be that bleach is the best way to get it.
But off hand, the main sorts of instances where I might find that
look appropriate would be in attempting to reproduce the look of
some ancient bit of metal freshly unearthed from the ground. I’m not
much drawn to faking or reproducing ancient artifacts, so it’s not a
look I’ve got much use for. That might, though, be useful for someone
who’s trying for that effect. Personally, my favorite antique finish
on silver is liver of sulphur black, burnished to a lustrous
blue/black with a brass scratch brush. But that’s my taste. Perhaps
you’ve got other instances where the very different look that bleach
gives is appropriate. But please do keep in mind that in addition to
affecting the surface, it also can attack the structure of the
metal, especially solders, cast items, or detains that might trap and
retain a bit of the chemical for a longer period of time.

cheers
Peter Rowe


#15

Lima Beans naturally contain cyanide

Well Leonid, I must say thanks for this bit of trivia! I live in the
South of the US, and Lima Beans (except we mostly grow the small
ones, called Butter Beans) are a staple. I read your statement and
thought “hogwash”… and went to check it out. Well, NOT hogwash to
my surprise! I am thankful to know, though, that in fact there are
varieties that have low cyanide, and only those varieties are
permitted to be sold, either as seeds or to consume, in the US. So
if you are in the US you are going to have a hard time getting much
in the way of cyanide from your Lima Beans. What I found out was that
in parts of the world the Lima Beans have 20 to 30 times as much
cyanide as those in the US, and this is a natural pest control
created by the plant. Pretty interesting! So thanks for setting me on
this trail of knowledge Leonid. The range and depth of your knowledge
is truly amazing!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com
http://bethwicker.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#16
Does everyone know why there is a silverware? In case someone does
not, it is to indicate if there is a poison in food or drink. The
winemaker cup, or cellar master cup are always made from silver,
because formation of cyanide in wine was a real possibility in
Middle Ages, and every wine tasting could be your last. 

No, not so!

  1. Silver will not “generally” indicate if food is contaminated.

  2. Most cellar cups are lined with gold to stop the silver
    contaminating the taste.

  3. Silver has been used for bowls and cups for a great deal longer
    than the middle ages, just go to any large historical museum and
    you’ll be able to see cups made 5,000 years ago.

  4. Cyanide was not a contaminant of wine.

I know this must have come from some sort of reference book but the
book got it very wrong!

Tony Konrath


#17

Cyanide in wine

Does everyone know why there is a silverware? In case someone does
not, it is to indicate if there is a poison in food or drink. The
winemaker cup, or cellar master cup are always made from silver,
because formation of cyanide in wine was a real possibility in
Middle Ages, and every wine tasting could be your last. Silver will
go black even if a trace of cyanide is present. 

While I basically agree with you about blackening silver, you must
have been talking with some old wives (and not wine-makers) to get
on this sidetrack about cyanide in wine. Unless you’re making wine
out of peach pits or similar nasty stuff, I don’t think there is -
or ever was - any particular danger of developing a dangerous
concentration of cyanide from any normal wine-making process. Unless
you add it (for some reason) it’s not something you need to worry
about if you’re making wine. While it’s possible to poison yourself
with distillation processes, wine-making is really pretty safe - and
always was - which is why people have got away with it for so long,
even without silver cups. Silver cups are good for seeing the wine,
and they can help clean up certain sulphur compounds, but this
cyanide thing is strictly legendary.

I’ll leave it to someone else to talk about the dangers (or not) of
lima beans…

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#18
That's true. But the classic antique look is to duplicate the look
that occurs naturally with silver. That is the developement of
black sulphides, which can form a reasonably durable and uniform
black color. 

That is very true. I may question the term “uniform” because natural
finish occurs over some time and can range from light bronze to
black, depending on the shape of an article. Sometimes even hints of
blue and even orange can be seen.

If one looking for true antique patina, it is not the actual recipe
that important, but the environment of patination process. Let’s
recall that one of the reasons of silver darkening is sulphur in the
air, which came from burning coal. But a lot of people were also
using wood for heat, so atmosphere contained not only sulphur
compounds, but many others. So the closer we could imitate this
environment, the true finish would be.

The best way I know of is to use wood shavings lightly soaked with
liver of sulphur solution and dried. Article is packed into box
containing shavings and put away for a month or even longer. Progress
should be monitored from time to time. If one is in a hurry, a low
oven can be used, but the slower the process, the better the results.

Additional benefits of this technique are that different gamma can
be obtained by varying wood used for this. This even works with wood
not pre-treated with liver of sulphur, but it will take longer.

The true connoisseur of antique silver knows how silver patina looks
and it is always fun to deceive experts.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#19

Not related to patination but response is required.

1) Silver will not "generally" indicate if food is contaminated. 
  1. I never said contamination. I said poison. If someone wants to off
    a king or another important person, what was done is not poisoning
    his food and drink to the max, but to introduce micro doses of
    cyanide, which took effect over time. The person looked like
    suffering from some decease and was wasting away.
2) Most cellar cups are lined with gold to stop the silver
contaminating the taste. 
  1. To line cellar cup with gold would be a height of the stupidity,
    because gold may look nice, but does not tell you if cyanide is
    present. Incidentally, gold lining is always an indication of poor
    quality of an article and traditionally is used to conceal the
    defects.
3) Silver has been used for bowls and cups for a great deal longer
than the middle ages, just go to any large historical museum and
you'll be able to see cups made 5,000 years ago. 
  1. The point of Middle Ages is not that use of silver is limited to
    this time period, but it is the “art” of using poisons that bloomed
    at that time. I would refer to the history of the House of Borgia.
    The trick of using micro quantities of poison is that a body can get
    used to it and actually become more resistant. House of Borgia really
    perfected the skill of using the right doses with the right
    ingredients.
4) Cyanide was not a contaminant of wine. I know this must have
come from some sort of reference book but the book got it very
wrong! 
  1. Cyanide is present in most of the seeds and nuts in one or
    another form. Nature does it, so even if animal would consume the
    fruit, the seeds are spitted out and can become seedlings. Animals
    instinctively know not to eat seeds.

There was a time when grapes were crushed and juice was in contact
with seeds for long time, creating potential for a contamination. The
presses were crude and seeds were damaged in grape crushing. This
problem was eliminated in modern wine production by making sure that
seeds remain whole and exposure to them is limited. However, in
production of wine from sour cherries, apples, plums - the danger is
still present.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#20
I never said contamination. I said poison. If someone wants to off
a king or another important person, what was done is not poisoning
his food and drink to the max, but to introduce micro doses of
cyanide, which took effect over time. The person looked like
suffering from some decease and was wasting away. 

While other poisons might be cumulative cyanide is not, you
metabolize it and unless you get enough in a fairly short period of
time it will not kill you. So small doses on a daily basis over a
long time is not a good way to off the king. This is why people who
work with it often accidentally kill themselves. They get sloppy and
get a little on their skin here and a little bit there and nothing
bad happens then one day maybe there is a scratch on the hand that
gets a little cyanide on it, then kiss it goodbye.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts