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
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
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.