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Silver as paint support?


I’m not a jeweler. I recently discovered what annealing can do… and
find I’m working my way through the amazing archives here. I’ve been
arting with aluminum which I’ve been painting with acrylics… until
recently, when I met up with fine and sterling silver, and copper. I
know aluminum is an excellent support for acrylic paint… and
copper for oil paint… but, what about the silvers? I’m needing to
know if the silvers have any unwanted reactions to oil paint (with or
without alkyds) and/or acrylic paint. Would I be better off sticking
to acrylics on silver? I have a rough understanding of vitrified oil
paint on copper… but, is there anything I can paint successfully
upon silver that doesn’t have to be fired? I imagine whatever is used
would have to be varnished…or waxed?


Hi Linda,

There should be no real issues with using silver or gold as a support
for paint, Both metals have been extensively used - usually in the
form of gold or silver foil, to underlie both oil and acrylic
paintings. Most of the Russian icon paintings used metal foils to
give the paintings sparkle both as reflecting foils under the paint
and as surface embellishments. Silver and gold foils were also used
commonly in the painting of miniature portraits in the 17th and 18th
centuries under egg tempera paint and gouache which are very similar
to acrylic. The only real concern is whether the silver would
oxidise or darken over time. This happened to some egg tempera
paintings due to the sulphur in the egg part but this is unlikely to
be an issue with most modern paints. If the silver is to be exposed
at any point to give a shiny highlight, it will, of course, need a
coat of lacquer to keep it from oxidising in the air.

Best wishes,

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK