Pickling Metal After Soldering


Foundations in Metalsmithing: Bracelets


Lesson Info

Pickling Metal After Soldering

Pickle is a mild acid. It's called pickle because it actually used to be similar to the same solution that you would use to pickle something, and in fact, there are versions of it it that you can do, I believe, with vinegar and things like that, but don't ask me, cause I've never mixed one. That's what the internet is for. But you can also buy commercially-ready pickle. Again, if you guys RSVP for the class, you get that .pdf sheet, links with where you can buy pickle. A lot of people use Sparex or Sparex. That's another option as well. So, pickle actually works best when it's a little bit warm which is why we have ours in a crock pot here. If you're gonna use a crock pot for your pickle, it is never safe for food again. You should mark it as such. There's never gonna be any cheese dip in there. We're not having tacos later, it's just, just for pickle. You only wanna use it on warm or low, never high, because we don't want our pickle to evaporate, cause it will evaporate over time, and...

that's not so good. Again, it's a little bit of an acid, so you wanna be really careful with it, and the other thing is, you never wanna throw it down the drain when it's done. So, when you mix a fresh batch of pickle, it's gonna be clear. Over time, it's gonna turn blue. That's as the copper oxides come off of your metal. Eventually to a point where it's spent, meaning you can't use it anymore. In that case, you can mix up new pickle, but you do not wanna throw the old pickle down the drain, because we don't wanna send those copper oxides off into the world. That's really bad. So what you always wanna do is just call your local dump, your local refuse authority, whatever it is, call them, say, "I have this stuff. "This is what's in it. "Please tell me how to dispose of it." And they will give you instructions on what they want you to do. So we never just wanna throw that down the drain. So, when we left, we threw a lot of our stuff in the pickle. So the question that people always ask is, "How long should you leave your metal in the pickle?" So this is not a cooking show. It's not 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and then it's done. The answer is definitely until it's clean, and that amount of time can really vary based on how strong you mix your pickle. I mixed our pickle pretty strong here, cause I wanted it to work fast. I don't also don't ever read the directions. I just, pickle comes dry, and you add it to water. I just sorta sprinkle it in, and say, "That's good enough." So, if it's warmer, it'll work faster. If it's stronger, it'll work faster, and if it's newer, it'll work faster, so the more, the greener it gets, the more copper oxides that get in there, the slower it works. So, could be anywhere from five to 10 minutes to 20 to 30. What you don't wanna do is leave it in too long. I've had, when I used to teach at the University, I'd have students who would throw their copper sample in the pickle, forget it was there, go to their next class, come back in the morning, and be like, "Someone stole my sample outta the pickle," and I was like, "No, your pickle ate your sample." (laughing) It just dissolved it, right? So, I would say, give it five to 10 minutes, check on it, definitely, if you're the kind of person who forgets things, put a note on your studio door that says, "Check pickle. "Nothing in it, turn off." Right? So give yourself that little note as you're walking out the door. And, again, keep it in a safe place if you have kids, if you have pets. This is definitely not something that you wanna just leave hanging out on the kitchen counter, so, just be a little bit smart about that. So the other thing that we have to be aware of when we're pickling, is that, if we have brass or bronze, and you guys may have noticed this with some of the samples, you're gonna take your brass thing, and you're gonna throw it in the pickle, and it's gonna look copper when you take it out, right? This was brass when we started, and now it's definitely copper-colored. Do not panic. That is just what happens with brass and bronze. It has to do with the copper oxides in the pickle. It just turns pink. It should not happen with silver. If you put silver in the pickle and it turns pink, then you've contaminated your pickle, meaning you've probably accidentally stuck steel in it, whether it was your steel tweezers or a binding wire or something, so if silver turns copper-colored, that's a problem. If your bronze or your brass turns copper in the pickle, that's perfectly normal. But that said, obviously, we don't want this to be copper-colored. We wanted it to be brass. That's why we used brass. So there's a little trick that you can use. I've heard it called by a couple different names, but I call it hyper pickle, cause it's more fun. So what I did, is I just mixed up a little batch of pickle here, so in this case, it's actually cold, but it's fine. So I mixed up a little batch of pickle, and now what I'm gonna do is add hydrogen peroxide to this. So, I usually do about a two to one ratio, so about two parts my pickle mixture, and about one part hydrogen peroxide. That said, sometimes I get really impatient, and then I just start adding more hydrogen peroxide in. The more hydrogen peroxide you add, the faster this'll go. So, I'll just pour that in there, and so, I'm gonna just drop. Okay, that's not gonna fit. We're gonna squish it, and we're gonna squish it back later. We'll clean half of it. Then we'll get some contrast. So, now I'm just gonna let that sit in there, and it doesn't happen automatically, but what we're gonna see is eventually, if it's working properly, we should start to see bubbles form on the surface of this. That's just the churning of the pickle solution in there, but we'll actually start to see bubbles form on this surface, and then eventually, we'll start to see it start to turn brass-colored. But since it takes a few minutes, we're just gonna let that hang out, and we're gonna talk about some other things, and we'll keep an eye on it, alright? So any questions about the pickle or the hyper pickle that I just mixed?

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.