Friday, October 28, 2016

To Patina or Not to Patina?

As you can see by the frequency of my blog posts, my blog muse has come back to me.

I am going to say something personal here before I get to the patina bit in the hopes that it benefits someone out there reading.

I have a terrible form of arthritis, called psoriatic arthritis (similar to rheumatoid arthritis). For a very long time, almost 2 years, I was nearly bedridden by it. The pain has been excruciating. My feeble attempts at walking any distance ended with huge setbacks and more debilitating pain.

I have been very fortunate in that my hands have been spared the arthritis, so far. It's my larger joints, tendons and bursas that tend to be terribly inflamed. I am also fortunate that there are so many new medicines available now. You may have seen ads for Enbrel and Humira. I tried them both. Neither worked for me very well or for very long. But, the last one I've tried, Otezla, has been working fantastically! It's like a miracle! And, unlike the others, it's a 2x daily pill and not a bi weekly shot. Yay!

If you suffer from a chronic ailment, like an autoimmune disease, and you have given up hope- know that there IS something out there that will help you or will be. It may take a while to find, but you WILL find it. Medicines have gotten so good in the last 10 years and advances still keep marching on. Don't give up hope. I did. I was miserable- hence my lack of blogging for the past year. I just had no enthusiasm for much of anything. But, now I feel I have a new lease on life. :) I had to share that because I know of a lot of people who have taken up jewelry making as a hobby because of an illness or physical limitation. My hope is that any of you reading find the right treatment for yourself.

Now, back to jewelry... You know that once you add a patina to copper or silver, you are pretty much stuck with it. I am one who happens to really like shiny silver. It is true that it is harder to care for, but storing properly and using a good polishing cloth, like a Sunshine cloth, go a long way towards keeping your silver nice and sparkly. Sometimes, though, a piece really calls for a patina, especially if there is weaving involved because it does such a great job bringing out the detail and texture.

I just finished a piece in silver and had a dilemma. I love the clean silver look with the beautiful, icy labradorescence of blue kyanite. But, I also love a patina on woven bails. I really didn't want the frame to have a patina. So, I figured that I would just dip the bail of the piece in liver of sulfur. If I didn't like it, I could always dip the rest and do the whole thing.

I added hot water to a bowl and dipped in the bail to measure the correct height for the patina solution. Once I got it right, I added the gel and did the patina. I am so glad that I did it. The difference, to me, is striking. Here's a few quick pictures to show you the before and after...

Speaking of patinas. Are you still using steel wool to remove the excess patina? Are you using the 3M "spider" wheels to do it? I have done both, preferring the old fashioned, messy steel wool. But, now, I almost exclusively use a soft brass brush. It not only removes just the right amount of patina, but it also leaves a beautiful satin finish. If you don't like the finish, just go over it with a polishing cloth. Also, it gets into really small spots very nicely, like in between the weaving wires. I remember reading about this on Mary Tucker's blog when I bought my first brush. I used it on copper all the time, but just switched to using it on silver, as well. In fact, I have two brushes- one for silver and one for copper- which I recommend you do, too.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!


  1. Tela, I'm so glad you have found a medication that works for you. I have osteoarthritis in my hands and hips. Both hips have already been replaced and are now fine. Osteoarthritis is nothing compared to what you have! What a relief you must feel after living with that daily.

    I have trouble with patina. It seems as though I take too much LOS off. I've used a very fine steel wool and I've also tried a fine spider wheel but still end up taking more than I want off. I do have a small brass brush, I'll give that a try. I do like the ability to be able to highlight different areas.

    1. Thank you, Kate. :) I couldn't be more happy with the new medicine.

      If your brass brush is very fine and compacted, it should work pretty well. Are you letting your pieces get good and dark? I find that for silver, I need to use very, very hot water. Not boiling, but almost.

    2. Kate, for the light/selective polish on the oxidized piece you could try micro-mesh. It comes in a range of grits and can be used for anything from satin finish to mirror-shine (if you go all the way up to 12000 grit). Higher numbers (6000-8000) work great for removing patina without leaving scratches. You can glue it on popsicle sticks or use it like a polishing cloth.
      I use either micromesh or spiders for anything these days :) Both are clean and effective.

  2. Replies
    1. I don't know if I have seen any of your silver work without a patina.


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