Liver of sulfur on silver

Carol Holaday rings
three rings with LOS
Carol Holaday - ring
Bird in a Bush ring

Three new rings created for the recent sale at Monterey Peninsula College. Showing these as examples of the colors that can be achieved on silver using liver of sulfur patina.

Liver of Sulfur for a rainbow of colors on silver –  adapted from instructions provided by Katherine Palochak.

2 C. hot water

about a half teaspoon of LOS gel (or can use dry lump form)

1 Tbsp. clear, plain ammonia

1 tsp. salt (I use kosher)

Dissolve the LOS in the hot water, then add the other ingredients. Stir well. Color of water will be yellow.

Dip piece to be patinated into a container of very hot water to pre-heat the metal, then briefly dip into the LOS solution.

Next dip it in a container of ice water to stop the action and set the patina.

Repeat as necessary to achieve the colors you want. Best to build up color slowly.  Color will develop beginning with straw gold and ending at total black. Left too long in the LOS and the black can become too thick and flake off.

This recipe is particularly good for the dark purple and blue iridescent colors although I have achieved some remarkable orange and magenta colors as well… as seen on the ring at right in photo.

Try different amounts of ammonia and salt (iodized salt gives a different color than kosher salt), and make color patterns by selectively dipping just certain areas of the piece into the LOS solution.

Allow the patina to dry and set before rubbing it off the high areas of the design with a fine polishing paper or pumice. I also use this process for copper and brass although the colors achieved will be very different. Mostly brown to black.

Photographing on white and on black

I photographed the recently created “Bird” cuff on a white background and on a black glass background as a test to see what works best for the piece. Both seem OK to my eye… just very different. The black is dramatic, the white seems more contemporary.  If I were to list this in my Etsy shop, I might also photograph it with some props from the garden. A leafy branch or two for instance. Plus I need a photo that shows the out-side of the ends as an alternate view.

The brass sheet was originally photo etched to use as a plate for roll printing onto silver, however, I decided it would work better used directly for jewelry. I am now wearing the cuff to see how the polished surface might change over time. The dark background is a heat patina that developed naturally when I annealed the metal for forming.

bird cuff photo etched
Bird cuff 1
Bird Cuff - Carol Holaday
Bird cuff 1 on black

Jan’s earrings

bird earrings
Birds in a Tree

I made these earrings for my friend Jan in memory of the many happy hours we’ve spent together watching the birds in our shared garden. She helps me to identify the different birds that come and go here.

I photo etched a brass texture plate and used it to roll print the design onto a silver. I then selected and cut the discs to feature two facing birds. The lapis beads were chosen to match a necklace Jan wears.

Stacked Saucer bead

Taking a break from etching experiments to prep and make a stacked saucer bead for a tube rivet demo. I really like the color combination of high karat gold and turquoise and this inspired my choice of materials for coloring the copper and brass.

stacked and riveted saucer bead
Stacked Saucer bead with color

stacked saucer bead components
components for stacked saucer bead

coloring materials
coloring materials for the stacked saucer bead

I started with three 24 gauge 1 1/2″ discs. The fine silver tube is 1/4″ OD. The silver jump ring is soldered closed. After coloring the domed copper discs with first the paint and then the Gilder’s Paste, they were sprayed with acrylic to seal them. The gold leafing pen was used to color the small flat brass washers only. I used a small cross pein hammer to texture the edge of the brass center. The beautiful tube riveting tools from Tim Lazure where used to set and finish the rivet.

riveting tool set
Riveting tool set from Tim Lazure.com

Two sides of another saucer bead made using similar techniques. This one features etched copper discs colored with Gilder’s paste and LOS and a copper center disc with a red heat patina.
4509w

Saucer Bead with etched copper
Saucer Bead with etched and colored copper

The larger etching tank

The small power source (see Feb. 14 post for photo) works perfectly well for the larger etching set-up I made for cuff sized blanks and roll printing plates. I would still like to have a power source that would allow for setting the voltage to 1.5V. The little black one only goes down to 3V at a preset 2amp.

etching tank
larger etching tank set-up
larger etch tank
another view of larger etch tank

I used an acrylic display case designed for model cars for this tank that accommodates a 3″ wide X 6″ long (or smaller) piece. The tank is 4 1/2″w x 9″l x 5″h. The closer the anode is to the cathode, the faster the etch. The “wings” on the cathode and anode supports help to keep the plates parallel in the tank as well as providing a place for attaching the leads that is away from the water.

A deep etch on 18g brass took 3 hours. I used a soft brush to clean off both the anode and the cathode several times during the process. I plan to use this plate for roll printing a few copper cuff blanks, and then perhaps use it to make a cuff… or maybe will cut it up for several pendants.

fern design for roll printing
deeply etched brass plate with fern design

The black on the plate shown above is the lazer toner resist. I removed this with Citrasolv before using the plate for roll printing silver for a ring band.
etched plate with print
etched fern plate with printed silver

I used the etched brass plate to roller print an 18g sterling strip to use for a ring band.

Electro Etching continued

February 18 Update:
With the goal of making an easier, faster, and better connection of the piece to the lead, I cut a sheet of copper to tape the piece to. This eliminated the need for holes drilled in the piece and the time it takes to attach and form the wires that connect the piece to the tube used to hold it for suspending in the tank. This worked as planned and made it very quick and easy to remove one piece and tape on another with no waste of copper wire. Much less messy as well.

Photo below shows the tank with the current switched on. I’ve etched a couple of pieces in this bath and the crud is really building up. Note how much is floating on the surface! Seems to work well all the same.
Update: February 21 Just learned that this “crud” is “sodium hydroxide (lye) and copper chloride”. After the etch bath sits overnight, this crud settles to the bottom of the tank. I syphon off the clear solution to re-use (with added salt) and pour the crud into a bottle to take to the hazardous waste site. I am very careful to wear proper gloves to protect my skin at all times. Also safety goggles…. just in case.

anode hanging over the edge
new anode set-up

Photo below shows the piece taped to the latest version of the anode support. All areas not to be etched are covered in clear packing tape EXCEPT the piece that hangs outside the tank where the lead is clamped. The oxides/patina visible on the back of the piece is from a previous set-up where I taped wires to the piece and the salt water leaked in next to the wire.

piece taped to anode
piece taped to anode – back view

February 14th:
Win some, lose some.The continuing saga of the electro-etching experiments. This time using Kosher salt and distilled water.

In my enthusiasm, I purchased two power sources. The fancy one with the digital read-outs, dials for controlling both amps and volts, lots of available power. The price from Amazon.com was very good ….$60 plus shipping…. and if it had worked, I would be very happy with it. Unfortunately, it was defective and I returned it for a refund. At first I thought it was operator-ignorance causing the failure, so I had Sky bring in an amp/voltage meter to check it.

failed power source
the failed one

The less fancy, less powerful, and less expensive (about $33) one works very well. At least on the size of piece I etched with it yesterday. It remains to be seen how it might work on a larger piece in a larger container. It works at a steady, pre-set 2 amps. I set the adjustable voltage to its lowest option of 3 volts.

This one works:

does the job
The one that works

Note: neither power source came with the required leads. I had to buy these from another seller on Amazon.

test lead set for power
had to buy from a different supplier

I modified the anode following Sky’s suggestion that more edges would result in a faster etch. I also made certain that the connection of the copper wires to the piece were very good.

pierced anode
modified anode according to Sky’s suggestion

I used the smallest container I could find that would hold the piece (anode) and the cathode. The photo shows how the water looks the day after it was used for etching. Dissolved copper sinks to the bottom, a little junk floats. When the etching is happening, the water is very murky after a short while.

small etching container
very small container for the salt water etching set-up

With all of these “improvements”, I was able to etch the 18g copper to the desired depth in a reasonable amount of time…. two hours. Next, I’ll try to etch larger pieces in a larger tank to see how this small power source handles the job.

A big thank you to Sky P. for the technical help.