Do you want to give your copper electroformed jewelry an antique look? If so, you need to get Liver of Sulphur. This patina can do many things, but its main purpose is to oxidize metals and darken them. Read on to discover how to use Liver of Sulphur and create completely unique designs.
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What’s Liver of Sulphur?
Liver of Sulphur is a chemical compound used to achieve an antique look or a patina on metal. It can be black, dark brown or a range of colors.
Liver of Sulphur is widely used in metalworking. Your metal reacts with the sulfur which oxidizes it and turns it black. You can use this patina on textured surfaces as it makes patterns more visible.
This gel can be used on different metals including copper, bronze, silver, and even metal clay. For this tutorial, I’m just going to use it on my copper electroformed jewelry to give it an antique look.
You can experiment with Liver of Sulphur and give your creations different colors like rainbow, or gunmetal for example.
How to use Liver of Sulphur
First, let’s see what you need to give your copper electroformed jewelry an antique look:
- Plastic container
- Hot water
- Steel wool pad
- Liver of Sulphur
- Paper towel
- The object you want to oxidize
Note: The technique I’m using aims to achieve an antique patina. You can achieve different results depending on which metal you’re working on and how you use Liver of Sulphur. You can experiment for yourself or do some research online to find different ways to use it.
Step 1: Put your gloves and mask on
Safety first! Put your gloves and mask on before you start doing anything else.
Step 2: Put one drop of Liver of Sulphur in your container
Take your gel and put one or two drops in your plastic container. If you are going to patina only one of two pieces of jewelry today, one drop should be enough. The recommended dosage on the bottle says one teaspoon for 12fl oz of hot water (355ml).
I always put one drop and have enough to oxidize one or two pendants.
Step 3: Add hot water
Take hot water and pour it in your plastic container. I always put just enough to submerge my pendants. Putting more would just be wasteful.
Step 4: Plunge your item in the solution
Next, take your piece of jewelry on a hanging wire and plunge it into the solution you just made. You can move it around or let it sit in the solution. It’s up to you. I move mine around so that it oxidizes a little bit faster.
Step 5: Wait for your pendant to darken
After a few seconds, you will notice that your pendant is already getting darker. If you want it to look antique, you can wait until it becomes dark brown or black before you take it out of the solution. It only takes a few minutes.
Step 6: Take your object out and dry it
Once your pendant is black, you can take it out of the solution and pat it dry with a paper towel. Try to dry it as best as you can. Otherwise, there will be debris of the steel wool pad stuck in your design when you polish.
Step 7: Polish
Take your steel wool pad or Dremel and polish your item. After a few seconds, you should be able to see the highlights already! Polish until you obtain the desired shine. Don’t forget to do the back also.
That’s it you’re done. If you want to protect your object, you can seal it.
If you don’t want to patina your item entirely, you can directly apply Liver of Sulphur on your metal using a rag or brush. Liver of Sulphur also works on copper wire, but it won’t work if it’s enameled or tarnish resistant.
Watch the process:
Safety precautions with Liver of Sulphur
Liver of Sulphur can be harmful if you don’t take the necessary precautions when using it. First of all, it stinks and you shouldn’t breathe the fumes once it’s mixed with hot water. Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and you wear a mask when working over your solution.
You should use hot water with Liver of Sulphur but not boiling water. I think I remember reading on the notice that using boiling water can produce harmful fumes. Always reuse the same container for your patina, and do not use it for anything else (especially not food).
Even though it is harmless on the skin, I always wear gloves because it can leave yellow stains on your finger- and they stay for a few days. And you don’t want to smell like Liver of Sulphur, trust me…
You can also use safety glasses if you want to take extra precautions. Once you’re finished using Liver of Sulphur, neutralize it with baking soda before you pour it down the drain.
Where to buy Liver of Sulphur
You can easily find Liver of Sulphur on Amazon. The most popular one is the one I’m using from Euro Tools, but there are other brands you can use.
Before, I was using the brown darkener from Jax. I couldn’t find it on Amazon, but I found it on another website. I loved this product very much! It doesn’t stink and you don’t need hot water to use it. You can just plunge your item directly in the solution.
Liver of Sulphur is one of my favorite electroforming supplies. I use it all the time to darken my creations and give them an antique look. You can also play with it and try to give your items rainbow highlights or a gunmetal patina. Don’t forget to take safety precautions when using it and work in a well-ventilated area.
Do you use Liver of Sulphur? Let me know in the comments below!