My Etsy Shop

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oxidizing vs. Tarnishing

Someone asked me the difference between oxidizing and tarnishing. (One of the rings I listed recently on my etsy shop has an oxidized finish.)

Oxidizing is intentional tarnishing, usually using liver of sulfur. Yep, sulfur. Cool effects, smelly process!

I often oxidize copper, but rarely do it with silver, since I usually prefer a bright look in silver. There are times, though, when an oxidized finish is the best choice.

Oxidizing is often used to achieve an antiqued look, but it can also be used to bring out the detail in a piece. It's especially effective when there is a lot of detail, in wire, say, that would be lost in a brightly polished finish.

The LOS is applied to the metal, you wait a little while until the metal darkens enough to get the look you want. Next you remove the tarnish in the areas you want highlighted--this is usually done painstakingly by hand, using a light abrasive. Afterwards, the piece is polished again.

It's a lot of work to make a piece look old, but the effect can be worth it!

In the next few days, I'll post a picture of a cross I recently made where oxidizing is used to bring out the detail. It drastically changes the look. Check back to see what you think of the difference.

-- Leigh