I made, a long time ago, sterling silver salt cellars for which I
had the inside of the bowl holding the salt gold plated - to protect
the ss from pitting. The plating is now eroded and needs re-doing.
The only platers that I can find in the New York City area will only
plate the whole object. I have learned that areas not to be plated
can be masked off with "stop-off".
I have looked on line and can find sources for "masking" products,
but lack sufficient knowledge to trust various claims. Can any one
reduce my ignorance in this process? Thickness of plating, etc.
Also, the quantities that seem to be available for this purpose are
in the one gallon range. My salt cellars are only 2" in diameter.
Your plater should be able to advise on which resist has worked best
in his solutions.
FWIW, I always use Metalcraft Electroplating on W. 30 St.
there are a lot of masqueing products out there. I'm surprised the
plating firm didn't tell you what they prefer as some people have
been known to use everything from gaffing tape to fingernail enamels
to stop-out the areas you don't want plated. Also if a firm only does
bath plating, perhaps you should check around for one that does more
detailed or "pen plating"..they are out there. But back to the
subject: you can use asphaltum- its perhaps the most resistant, but
messy stop-out there is.
there's a product you can get a screen printing supply stores called
"stop-out" it's a pen and intended for lithography and screen
printing. I like it due to the control over the amount you lay down
like a paint pen- the harder you press the more flows. it's made by
the Ulano Company. Barring that there's a product called "masque pen"
available at any art supply store. I've used it many times, but not
in an immersion bath so again, I'm surprised the plater you have
chosen didn't tell you if it has to be solvent/acid resistant, etc.
Any varnish (water based) will work too- you can buy it at any "x"
mart for about 99 cents a bottle. Painting it on may be the way to go
with a salt cellar. removal is equally easy and it will give you
excellent protection. Yellow ochre won't work as it's too soluble for
your project but if you were pen plating it would, as would any clay
slurry allowed to dry. White out is another masque, ok for detail
work but not immersion as it flakes too readily, and although one
flake coming off the piece may make it easy to remove the thin layer
of silver plating, you still have to abrade the surface and can go
too deep, more than one flake and its a pain in the butt on a number
of pieces. Then there are wax based products : beeswax melted and
mixed 3:1:1 with plaster of paris or investment (mixed according to
directions) and pitch or shellac is quite effective and easy to
apply and remove and practically impenetrable. (it makes a sealing
wax type stick if allowed to harden in a mould with a cotton wick (no
core) inserted for later use- or you can just keep it in a small pot
that can be reheated (stir well to paint on a workpiece and insure
that no chunks of hardened investment are floating around in it).
Orange flake shellac, gum arabic and copal all make good stops as
well: impermeable, easily removed and applies with a brush over
surfaces - to dissolve the gum(s) use denatured alcohol. Well,
there's my insight. if you have questions fell free to contact me off
Stephen- I just use nail polish. I always have a bottle or two
around of a bad color that I bought and didn't like. I use that as a
mask for plating on both jewelry and holloware.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Clean and prepare the part for plating. If you can electro clean, do
Shape a copper wire like a question mark to hang the part from. It
should touch the inside of the part where you want the gold plating.
The current has to travel to this surface.
You might even coil it so there are more than one contact points.
Paint the surface you do not want to plate with finger nail polish.
This is the stop off material that should work.
Let it dry, plate and remove with nail polish remover.
Lacomit is one trade name to look up.
There are others.
One can use a variety of substances to "mask off" areas in plating.
I've even used magic marker "Sharpies" to coat or mask off.
Afterwards, I fill up a small jar with acetone, put the item that
was plated in the solution in the jar, and then suspend the jar in a
working ultrasonic. The ink used for masking will literally fly off
in seconds. A thorough rinse, steam, and dry afterwards is all it
takes to remove it.
Nail polish works great too, but it takes more time to dry, and also
to dissolve away later.
I have an idea for you. Think about reversing the leads on the
If it were me in your situation, I would first prep the insides of
the cup as perfect and clean as I could, getting it ready for
plating. Heat up the 24kt plating solution to the proper temp, setup
the cup so it is as level and stable as can be. Fill the cup up to
it's brim with the 24kt plating solution, attach the Negative lead
from the rectifier to somewhere on the silver cup that is connected
(to conduct electricity) to the bowl, like say the handle, and attach
the Positve lead from the rectifier with it's wire, clipped to a
strip of 24kt rolled out thin and long to suspend in the solution in
Then with rectifier turned on(you'll have to probably adjust the
voltage up a bit from the usual), suspend your gold strip into the
the 24kt gold solution, and move it around and around circularly
inside the cup near it's sidewalls, with the very end of the gold
strip also near the floor of the cup too. You can do this as long as
you want at power voltages to build up the micron thicknesses. While
you do this, bear in mind there is to be NO CONTACT between the gold
strip to the silver body. If your 24kt strip is long enough, you can
bend the end into a smaller perpendicular circle shape which would
plate more uniformly to inside walls at the moment as it moves
around and up and down. That's not necessary, but just a thought to
help plating thicknesses
When done turn off the rectifier. Pour the plating solution back
into it's bottle for reuse.
IF after rinsing, the plating color is a bit brownish in areas, wet
the insides of the cup, put a couple of spoonfuls of baking soda
into the cup making a slurry, and with your fingers (or natural hair
brush) rub the innards all over with the slurry. This should bring
the uniform gold color back.
If you want before you start all this, you can use a Sharpie to coat
the top edge of the cup and slightly down the outside, insuring no
gold plating gets there by accident.
Remember to place the cup onto a non-conductive stable/level surface
for the plating proceedure, wood will do just fine.
I would think that people in the business of doing plating would
understand this approach and be willing to plate it this way for
you, IF you do all the prep work and clean up afterwards. They can
just reverse hookup the anodes, put in the 24kt solution, and plate
the innards this way without submersing the whole item. Shouldn't
take them more than say 15 minutes to just do this.
Is there a jewelry repair person mear where you live? If so, they
might likely have a plating setup and be willing to undertake this
approach (for a fee)
You can use fingernail polish or any other lacquer to do the job
just let itsit for 24 hours before plating.
I use it all the time.
Once you have your salt cellars polished and super clean (steamed,
free of any polish residue, fingerprints, etc) you'll want to then
"stop off" any areas you don't want plated. Just use fingernail
polish. I like a colored version rather than clear, as it's easier to
see as it's applied. It dries fairly quickly, and you can see if your
coverage is complete. That little brush in the bottle makes it easy
to get the polish exactly where you want it.
I'd recommend a nickel plating over your silver before gold plating,
to seal the silver, and I recommend a 24K "high deposition" plating
solution over the nickel. The nail polish will hold up to a heated
plating solution nicely. After you're satisfied with the appearance
and thickness of your gold plating, you can then rinse and dry your
salt cellars, and then soak them in acetone to remove the nail
You should have a beautiful, durable 24K gold surface only on the
inside of your salt cellars.
Good luck with that!
Just use fingernail polish. I like a colored version rather than
clear, as it's easier to see as it's applied.
No doubt someone uses things other than nail polish, but I don't
know who... It's colored, it dries incredibly quickly, and it's
easily removed with acetone. The little tidbit that I've been wanted
to post is that you still need to be very careful with it. If you go
over a line with it and wipe off your boo-boo, that spot is still
masked. Anyplace you touch is masked, even if you wipe it off again.
Just the touch of the stuff is enough, unless you clean it all over
again from scratch.