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Oxidizing silver & Patination tricks

Hello all, Last Saturday I took a course on kum-boo at the Revere
Academy in San Francisco, taught by the excellent Christine Dhein.
The class learned a lot of interesting techniques, but one of the
neatest tricks was Christine’s demonstration of Kodak rapid selenium
toner acting as an oxidizing/coloring agent on silver. You can get
a nice gray or black with the proper application of liver of sulfur,
but you can also get rainbow colors if you’re not careful (or if in
fact that’s what you intend to do). The selenium toner imparted a
beautiful matte gray as long as the depletion-gilded silver with the
applied kum-boo was heated in warm water before being plunged
briefly into the selenium solution.

I thought I’d read every article on kum-boo in existence (and a lot
on patination in general) but I’d never heard before of using
selenium in place of liver of sulfur. Now I’m wondering, what other
oxidzing/coloring tricks are out there that you only hear of by word
of mouth? (I’m slowly wading through Hughes’ “The Coloring, Bronzing
and Patination of Metals” but haven’t seen anything about selenium in


Many gun “blueing” solutions are Selenium based and even though they
are made for use on steel, often work (with different colors that
you would get on steel) for other metals. The “blue” material will
give a deep, iridescent, purple on bronze if brushed with a brass
brush while wet. You can get brown, black, blue and other colors at
your local, well stocked gun shop and some hardware stores.
Bu(i)rchwood Casey is a primary producer of these materials, so one
may be able to get silver specific mixes directly from them.
However, they usually sell direct in 5 Gallon quantities or more and
the stuff runs in the $40.00+ per gallon range but some shops may be
selling smaller, broken down quantities, just don’t know about the
silver (if available) mixes. With any patina, what you do with the
wet piece (ie the brass bristle brush on the bronze mentioned above)
can make HUGE differences, so one might experiment with different
application techniques, or better yet, a number of interested folks
on this list divvy up different materials/techniques and all report
back to the list with results. Sharing often get more info back
that given… I would participate, but I don’t work with
silver, just bronze sculpture, but I would like to do this with a
group of interested bronze casters/patinaters if I could find a
willing group to do it.

John Dach