• There are many chemicals for adding patinas to metal surfaces.
• Rio Grande offers multiple options, in many different forms;
• Otto Frei
• Gesswein, five;
• Contenti, three;
• Metalliferrous, seven;
-or- you can make your own. This is a complex topic and I won’t cover it here because. . .
• Since I primarily use fine silver and sterling silver in my work, I like to use Liver of Sulfur as my preferred patination chemical.
About Liver of Sulfur
• Liver of sulfur (LOS) is relatively innocuous.
• It does generates fumes, so active ventilation is imperative.
• Wear rubber, latex, or nitrile gloves when handling it, or use nonreactive tweezers (stainless steel, bamboo, or plastic). LOS smells like rotten eggs, and will make your ungloved hands smell like that, too.
•LOS is one of the more benign patina chemicals.
• LOS is packaged in three different forms: as chunks, as a gel, or in solution.
• I use the chunks which retain their strength longer than the solution. (I have no experience using the gel.)
How to Use Liver of Sulfur Chunks
• Drop a chunk of LOS into hot water in a small nonreactive (stainless steel or Pyrex) bowl.
• LOS works best when it’s hot, so you can also use a stainless steel pot and heat it on a hotplate.
SAFETY NOTE: DO NOT BOIL LIVER OF SULFUR AS THIS CREATES VERY BAD FUMES.
(It doesn’t need to be boiling, just hot… and ventilate, ventilate, ventilate)
• The color of the solution should be a deep yellow, about like the color of an egg yolk.
(When I’m finished applying this solution I can store it for several days and re-use it)
• Drop a degreased metal object in the hot LOS solution. I generally warm the object under hot running water and then drop it in the LOS.
• Remove the object after a few seconds, either with gloved hands or tweezers.
Rinse the object in hot running water and re-immerse it in the solution.
• Repeat this procedure until the patina pleases you.
• Rinse the object in hot water with a little dishwashing liquid.
•I’ve never coated my jewelry objects with wax or a clear varnish or, etc.
OK, SO YOU DON’T HAPPEN TO HAVE LIVER OF SULFUR ON YOUR SHELF
• If you don’t have any LOS and you need to patina a piece, you can use hard-boiled egg yolk
(That rotten egg smell is sulfur)
• Boil one or two eggs
• Peel eggs and break open so that the yolk is visible.
• Place the eggs and metal object in a jar with a screw lid and screw on the lid.
• Wait…wait…wait… until the metal is dark enough to suit your taste
(This may take a few days, depending on the age of the eggs…older = better)