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How to tarnish silver for old-looking finish?


#1

HI,

This is my first post. My late mother, Marion Margoshes, made silver
(and other) jewelry and loved this forum. She left me many beautiful
silver orchid pins and pendants. They are mostly too shiny and
polished for my taste. But she did something to a few of them that
made them look burnished and matte-finished. I seem to remember she
said something about putting those in a “tumbler”, but I’m not sure.
Here’s a picture of a shiny one and a matte one, so you can
(hopefully!) see the difference.

(the left (shiny) one looks better in the picture than in real
life!)

Does anyone know how I could take the shiny ones somewhere and have
them “tumbled,” or tarnish them artfully in some other way? Thank
you!

Liz


#2

Hello Liz, I’m very sorry to hear about your mother. Her pins
lookquite attractive. With a cotton ball or a bit of paper towel,
coat a pin with iodine (the stuff for cuts and sc ratches) and rinse
it off after a moment.

You can then rub it brighter with a dry paper towel. It will then be
dark enough. Have fun. tom arnold


#3

Hello Liz,

How nice to have the pieces from your mother. Patina/tarnish will
happen if the silver is exposed to the atmosphere and it happens more
rapidly in the winter if your home uses a furnace that burns oil or
natural gas. However, the evenness of the color may vary.

Most of us have liver of sulfur that is dissolved in warm water,
making a solution that quickly darkens/tarnishes silver. Check with
your local hobby shop - if they carry copper tooling equipment, they
will have liver of sulfur and you can do it yourself. I recall some
other methods described in past Orchid discussions. Search the Orchid
archives.

Once the piece is darkened/tarnished, you can rub the metal with a
polishing cloth to make the higher areas shine. If you like the
matte finish, rub with the green ScotchBrite that is found in the
grocery store’s cleaning section. It will also remove the dark patina
and leave a non-shiny finish.

If this seems to confusing or you do not want to do this yourself,
no doubt there is someone on Orchid who lives reasonable close to you
and can accomplish your wishes for a sum. Of course, we don’t know
where you live, so that would need to be provided.

Hope you are successful in either doing the deed yourself, or
contacting someone who will help you.

Judy in Kansas, where a Carolina wren has been busy singing. Spring
IS coming.


#4

Thank you for the suggestions. So it seems that either liver of
sulfur or iodine will do the trick. I’ll try the iodine first.

Liz


#5
But she did something to a few of them that made them look
burnished and matte-finished. I seem to remember she said something
about putting those in a "tumbler", but I'm not sure. 

Burnishing and tumbling are two methods for creating a shiny
surface, not producing a matte or tarnished finish. The one on the
left may have been tumbled, the one on the right has not been. A
tarnished finish can be achieved with liver of sulfur. A little bit
of heat from a torch can also darken/color copper. You can purchase
small bottles of liver of sulfur gel from Amazon. It’s very safe when
used as directed - but it smells as bad as it sounds. The one on the
left may have been varnished or coated to protect the color/prevent
tarnish.

Practice with the liver of sulfur on scrap copper before taking it
to the beautiful flowers :slight_smile:

Ellen B Weiss


#6
Burnishing and tumbling are two methods for creating a shiny
surface, *not* producing a matte or tarnished finish. 

Tumbling, using an abrasive medium, will produce a nice matte
finish. It will also remove sharp edges, etc.

Judy Bjorkman


#7

thanks, everyone. I’ve ordered liver of sulfur (love that name) and
look forward to dunking my pieces to darken them (and then stopping
the coloration with baking soda, as per a video I found on YouTube.)

Liz