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Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets

Lesson 21 of 25

Patinas: Achieving a Dark Finish with Liver of Sulfur

Megan Auman

Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

21. Patinas: Achieving a Dark Finish with Liver of Sulfur

Lesson Info

Patinas: Achieving a Dark Finish with Liver of Sulfur

So let's talk about patinas. So the first one that I wanna talk about is just basic liver of sulfur, 'cause I kind of alluded to it last time, but we didn't actually do it. So liver of sulfur is one of those patinas that's gonna get us a nice dark finish. But it's designed to work specifically on copper, and silver. So those are the two materials that liver of sulfur is gonna work best for. Now, the rule with any patina is that our metal needs to be sanded, finished, clean, and grease free before using the liver of sulfur. So we don't wanna like, touch it all up with our fingers, or any patina really; we don't wanna touch it all up with our fingers, and get it all full of grease because our patina is not going to adhere. So liver of sulfur... Let me figure out where the magic bag went. Comes in a couple different forms. Yes, it smells like sulfur. It's not pleasant. So, it comes in a couple different forms. I like to buy the chunk form because I think it lasts longer. Like, you can buy...

it pre-mixed in liquid, but it doesn't last as long. It's very light sensitive, so you wanna keep it away from the light. It actually comes in a nice little can. But I didn't wanna bring the whole giant can, so I just brought a little bit of it. But if you buy the chunk form, use the can; it can last for years, as long as you don't get any water in the can. I've literally had my can of liver of sulfur for like, 10 years. So, it lasts forever, as long as you don't get any water in the can. So what you'll do is you'll take some water. And it definitely works better if it's a little warm. So I've got some warm water in here. And then I'm just gonna go ahead... And you wanna kinda use smaller chunks. So if you've got bigger chunks, you can kind of break them up. And you can see as these start to dissolve. I'll just throw a couple in there. We're gonna mix this probably a little bit stronger than I would at home, 'cause, you know, there's a lot of people watching. (laughs) We're trying to get it faster. We want it to be faster. The other thing is, logically, you don't wanna stick your copper tongs in your liver of sulfur because it's going to turn them that, but this is what I happen to have on hand, and it's not gonna kill them. Like, it's not gonna kill our pickle to have this have been dunked in there. So I'm just gonna use this to kinda stir it up and touch things, 'cause, again, we don't really wanna stick our fingers in here. All right. So that's dissolving nice and quickly. So, let's just put something in here, but let's clean it first. So I'm just gonna take this and I'm just gonna take my little finishing paper, and I'm just gonna give it a little... Obviously in a perfect world, I would run this through the whole gamut of cleaning and processing, but in this case, actually I'm just gonna do the outside, and we're gonna see how crappy the inside looks without having cleaned it, 'cause then we know how much we can cheat. 'Cause that's really what you guys care about, right? What's the fastest way to get the really cool result? So now I'm just gonna go ahead and throw that in there. And I'm also gonna clean... I've got this little texture one that I'm gonna clean off and throw in there as well, 'cause then we're also gonna talk about... You know, the other thing with liver of sulfur is that you can actually clean some or all of it back. So you don't have to leave it a dark metal. So you don't have to leave it dark like this. You can actually go ahead and clean some of it back. So, we'll just clean that guy. Now we're gonna go fishing. Like, I can't see anything. So, that's actually turning pretty fast, right? That's why I mixed up such a, such a strong batch. That's pretty good. So I'm actually gonna go ahead. If I was working at home, I would rinse that off in the sink. But I'm here, so I'm just gonna dunk it in some water, and I'm gonna let that... I'm just gonna let that air dry. That's really it. Liver of sulfur works pretty quickly if you mix it strong. And because we did it warm too, it's super fast. So let's pull out our other guy here. So, obviously if you leave stuff in there, it's gonna get nice and dark. I'm gonna dry this off on my apron. But you can also go in here to liver of sulfur, and you can take some of it back to expose the metal underneath, which is really great if you've got some texture. So in this case, I'm actually just gonna use my finishing paper. You can use pretty much anything that's got a little bit of an abrasive quality to it. So you might wanna use, you know, your finishing paper, some sand paper. A lot of times I'll use, like, a Scotch Brite pad to clean stuff off. And so you can just go in, clean stuff off. The deeper your texture, the more you're gonna notice this. Now the other nice thing about this is, you know, clean it off, see how you feel about it, and if you're like, oh, I cleaned too much off, throw it back in there. You can just throw it back in. Try it again. So if you've got some texture, liver of sulfur is a really great way to enhance that surface, and then kind of bring back out your highlights. Any questions about liver of sulfur? We're gonna talk about sealing all of these patinas once we get through them all. So if you have questions about that, we'll come back to that. Trying to read our minds over here. You knew the sealing was next. I knew. I know the questions that are coming. So yeah, so we're gonna hold that thought 'cause we're gonna come back to it at the end, yeah. Okay, I just need to rewind on this, the chunk; 'cause I have like, some liver of sulfur gel? Okay. But I'm kind of interested... So if we were at your studio, Yeah. you just mix up that jar, Yeah. and it just sits there? So, it sits there, but it's light sensitive, so over time it actually breaks down to, basically back to like, water. It becomes like, if you leave it sit, it becomes nothing. Yeah. So it's like you mix it once; you mix it every time you need it. Does that make sense? Okay. So you don't use all the chunks; you use like, a couple chunks. And the rest of them stay in the jar in chunk form forever. Got it. So that's what's lasting you for 10 years? Yes. Not the liquid. The chunks themselves. Okay. There we go; got it. Thank you. Perfect. And that works for brass, copper, and bronze, or? Copper, and silver. Copper and silver? Yes. Okay. So if you want a comparable color on brass or bronze, this here is... You wanna get something that's like a brass, bronze and copper oxidizer, and so this... Actually I'll stick that in there. So you can see that is this mixture here. This works the same way. This is an immersion patina. So really most patinas, it's either they're immersion, or they're application. Either you stick it in, or you paint it on. So this one is an immersion patina. So what I did with this little sample here, is I just poured it in one of our little guys there, and then dunked this guy in. And you can see... Let me dry off this sample here. This is looking a little crazy 'cause it's still half wet. But you can see it's not so different color wise, right? It gives you a pretty dark look. It's a pretty warm tone. But that's gonna be the case on any of those. So if you're looking for a way to do the dark on bronze, or brass, I would get this brass, bronze, and copper oxidizer. And so really, if you were not planning on working with silver; if you were only planning on working copper, brass, or bronze, you could get this guy, instead of the liver of sulfur. And this comes from Rio Grande; the same jewelry supplier that I get pretty much everything from. And there's a link to Rio Grande in that PDF. So yeah, that's a good question. All right, other questions about liver of sulfur, or similar dark patinas. Yeah, Tracey. You mentioned with the pickle, if you leave things in there too long they disappear. Is that the same thing with the liver of sulfur? No, so the liver of sulfur, if you leave it in too long, it's not gonna eat it because it's not acidic. But what happens is the surface only takes so much liver of sulfur. So if you leave it in too long, it continues to build, but it becomes this really fragile surface that you can basically then, just wipe away. So you kinda wanna keep it in there, and then as soon as it hits that dark color, pull it back out. So there's definitely not a benefit to leaving it in longer.

Class Description

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing or have been experimenting for years, Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets will help you deepen your skills while exploring the exciting world of bracelets. From torchless techniques (like forming and riveting) to more advanced concepts (like hinges), you’ll walk out of this class with a heap of new metalsmithing skills! (And a pile of new bracelets).

In this class, jewelry designer and metalsmith Megan Auman will help you build your metalsmithing skills in a way that’s completely approachable - no matter what level you’re currently at.

You will learn how to:

  • Create unique cuff bracelets by forming wire and sheet.
  • Join metal without a torch by riveting.
  • Solder wire and sheet into different shapes.
  • Make hinges (with or without a torch) to take your bracelet designs to the next level.
  • Finish your designs and experiment with color on metal through patinas.

Whether you’re looking to grow your existing jewelry making knowledge or for a new creative outlet that you can proudly wear (and show off!), you’ll leave Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets with a series of bracelets you can call your own - and a new set of metalsmithing skills you can expand into even more jewelry ideas!



This is a great addition to Megan's metalsmithing series. She makes the topic really approachable. Bonus that metal patinas were added in to the class. I loved the class!

a Creativelive Student

I really enjoyed this class! It was very informative and gave me a lot of ideas for expanding a jewelry line to include a variety of bracelets and finishes.