Wednesday, May 09, 2007
did you know...
Sorry for the crap photo - someone has twiddled my camera settings and I'm going to have to break down and finally read the manual to make it work again.
Anyhoo - you know when metalwork (like turquoise & silver Indian jewelry) has detail that stands in relief and the recessed spaces are black? Yeah, well, d'ya know how those recessed spaces get blackened? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?
Well, I'll tell ya how it works. Jewelry makers use Liver of Sulphur for this purpose. Liver of sulphur is a fusion of sulphur and potassium carbonate. This combination is corrosive and will effectively blacken just about any metal, as far as I know.
I buy this from a jeweler's supply in the can shown in the photo (like a tiny paint can) and it comes in the form of these matte, stinky little rocklets that sorta look like gall stones. You choose a rock, put it in a plastic cup, and add some very hot water to it, and the rock will dissolve into a liquid you can use to etch your stuff. Once the metal is blackened, you have to polish the high relief stuff so the whole piece doesn't simply remain black. To minimize polishing time, I usually paint the LOS into the recessed areas with a toothpick.
I was using this last night for a little project and thought I'd snap a photo and tell you all about it.
When I first ordered this stuff I was bewildered. I always used it in liquid form from a bottle in the lab at a silversmithing class. However, exposure to light degrades the efficacy of LOS, so it's good if you can mix a fresh batch as needed.
Funny thing was this morning when I was leaving the house, I thought "what is that beastly, rotten-egg sewer-gas fartsome foulness?" Seriously. Those were my exact words in my wee brain.
As I left the house, I walked by where I'd been working last night and the wide-eyed innocent little vessel of Liver of Sulphur looked pleased with itself, having uttered the inaudible discord of his race.
Outdoors. Well-ventilated areas. Um, I think that's on the can somewhere. Must start reading instructions...