Adding A Nice Finish After Antiquing

by Ellen
(Baja California, Mexico)

I do not have a tumbler yet and after I patina a piece I want to rub some off and give the piece a very nice finished look. I work in Sterling Silver and a bit of copper sometimes. I just got my Sunshine© Polishing Cloth in the mail today but have not used it yet. What would you recommend? Steel wool? A scrubby?

Stacy's Answer:

Ellen, After applying a patina like Liver-of-Sulfur (LOS), you'll want to remove the excess with a very fine 0000 steel wool (available at home improvement stores) or a soft scrubby like those you would use on non-stick pans. Too coarse a scrubby will leave abrasions in the soft metal, so use caution here. Just rub off as much of the patina as you wish. Then rinse, dry and either leave it with its brushed look or use a polishing cloth to give it a shinier finish. When you remove the excess LOS while the piece is still wet, it comes off very easily.

I highly recommend that you get yourself a tumbler. You get a much more professional finish with one using a whole lot less elbow grease! When I want a nice dark patina with bright copper highlights, I patina the piece with LOS, let it dry and then tumble for 6 hours or more. When I remove it from the tumbler, I then buff with the Sunshine© Polishing Cloth, revealing the wonderful bright metal in the high spots of my piece. I offer both Sunshine© Polishing Cloths and stainless steel tumbling shot available for purchase in my Etsy store.

A Special Note: I suggest wearing disposable gloves when working with Liver-of-Sulfur and steel wool. Steel wool can leave little splinter-like fine steel fibers in your fingers (ouch!) and the black residue from the LOS will get into all the little nooks and crannies of your fingers and nails, making clean-up a chore. Gloves protect your hands from the chemical, the steel wool splinters and the messy black stuff!!

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Jun 24, 2016
Tumbling won't remove LoS? NEW
by: Anonymous

So if I tumble a piece of patina Sterling silver it won't remove the LoS from the lower, recessed parts, only the high parts?

Feb 20, 2009
by: Dawna

What kind of Tumbler do you recommend? I like the patina that you achieve. Do you treat it with LOS first then tumble? Thanks.

Stacy's Answer:

Dawna, I use a chemical called Liver-of-sulfur or LOS. It's actually potash and smells terrible, like rotten eggs. I prefer the nugget form as opposed to the liquid, pre-mixed form because it's shelf like is much long. The nugget form of LOS lasts 2-3 years or more as long as you store it in a cool, very dry place. any moisture and it's ruined.

As to the type of tumbler I use, I prefer a Lortone tumbler as they run quietly and are built to last. The 3 pound Lortone? uses one pound of stainless steel shot. I prefer the mixed media shot for jewelry use.

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