Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Silver PMC, Steel and Enamel


I have a question. I recently started some experiments with Silver
PMC. Most of the guides say “burnish with a steel brush”, but I know
that steel brushes leave a sort of blueish sheen on Sterling SIlver.
However I did use a steel brush for some pieces, just because I
forgot and the brush was close at hand. I then enameled a few of them
with Thompson lead free enamels. The enamels turned out a muddy
grey/brown color every time I used them on a surface that had been
brushed with a steel brush. I also got the same effect on a piece of
reticulated silver I had used a steel brush on and then enameled.
Steel on silver +enamel = bad (obviously) .

Question is: what is the reaction between the silver and steel, it
seems almost like the silver “dissolves” a tiny amount of steel and
keeps it on the surface ?

Anyone know the chemistry ?

I know you asked about the chemistry, but I’ll address the other
issue, in case anyone else is wondering how to burnish without this
problem. I haven’t ever noticed instructions for PMC work saying to
use steel brushes. Most say to use a brass brush.

You can also burnish with a burnisher, or tumble in stainless steel

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay