Getting a Natural Patina in Sterling Silver

Recently, someone had asked me to take necklace focal piece and turn it into a bracelet. This project led me to do a Byzantine chain maille bracelet and it also led to me antiquing that bracelet to show off the interesting detail of the Byzantine pattern. This project turned out so well I decided to create this blog piece to share how you can get a natural patina in your sterling silver with the simple boiling of eggs. This avoids chemicals and patina agents that can sometimes be a mess.

First, get a couple of eggs and start to hard boil them. It does not matter what kind of eggs, any eggs will do.

Once the eggs are hard boiled, approximately 7 minutes, then you can place them into a plastic container.

Now you are ready to smash them! Using a spoon, ladle or anything that can easily mash up the eggs, shell and all, within the container.

Quickly, while the eggs are still hot, place the metal you wish to patina inside the container with the egg and close the lid.

Let this sit for a good 15 to 20 minutes. For larger pieces, 30 minutes. It is important for the egg yolk to be hot and steamy. Why does egg yolk tarnish silver? I am so glad you asked! ๐Ÿ™‚ Because the yolk emits a sulfur-containing gas called hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Silver naturally tarnishes in reaction to any sulfur gases in the air. This also occurs with copper so, you could easily do this same process with copper.

Next you can use a polishing cloth over the surface of the piece and achieve an appearance that serves to give the metal more depth. As you can see the difference in the chain before and after antiquing. With this method of tarnishing, you can achieve a natural patina look with your silver or copper pieces.

The Rough and Refined

Fossilized Coral and Faceted Lemon Quartz

The elements of any creative endeavor are what makes the end result fascinating or maybe, just, nice. As the texture of a painting makes it alluring so does the texture of wire craft with various stones. The rough and refined create a balance of character that brings two opposite personalities into harmony.

Fossilized coral, or more properly, agatized coral, is a piece of coral that over the course of millions of years becomes agate through a process of replacement of the organic material. The above agatized coral is considered gem grade due to the crystal druzy embedding the surface. The grey undertone allows the yellow sparkle of the lemon quartz to stand out. These pieces will be bound together using sterling silver wire and maybe some gold-filled wire. What is gold-filled wire? That’s for another post. Until next time when I finish this rough and refined piece. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Floating Lemon

I had this idea and it came to fruition. I love art and I do a bit of painting on the side. It is a relaxing way for me to express myself and it is through the concept of painting and framing a picture that I wanted to “frame” a pretty little faceted stone. With a nice squarish piece of fossilized coral that had a perfect white background with a bit of sparkle, I added a faceted lemon smoky quartz to dangle in front of the “frame” – this came out more eye-catching than what I had imagined in my head. It’s unusual to have that happen. Typically, I have a hard time achieving what is drawn in my head and I accept the changes and adjustments that some designs require. This one surprised me.

There is a public exhibit getting ready to take place in my local town of Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is an open, non-juried exhibit which I appreciate so much. This enables all kinds of people who have creative abilities the opportunity to show their work. I am always surprised at the talent that comes out. So, the “Floating Lemon” which is what I am naming the piece is going to be exhibited for about a month and if it does not sell then it will be placed within the walls of my Etsy store. Fingers crossed. Pricing is at $130.00 with a gift box included.

Bloodstone

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Bloodstone or Heliotrope is a variety of Chalcedony. Chalcedony is a microcrystalline quartz. From the Handbook of Rocks, Minerals and Gemstones by Walter Schumann, Bloodstone is an “Opaque, dark green variety of quartz with red spotty inclusions.” These stones are found predominately in India, Brazil, Madagascar, Namibia and some areas of the USA.

Legend has it that the red spots of the Bloodstone were thought to be Christ’s blood. This stems from the Middle Ages and many things became folklore from those days. According to some metaphysical references, the stone is thought to carry an energy of Christ consciousness.ยน

In one of my latest designs, I use a tumble-polished freeform of Bloodstone as the centerpiece, along with Herkimer Quartz and Swarovski crystals. The long, twisted weaved bail is an exciting aspect to the design. It is representative of structure similar to DNA. The necklace is made with beading wire and assorted beads such as, Tiger Eye, Mook Jasper, Bloodstone and Garnet.

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Check out the listing in my Etsy store: https://etsy.me/2Bztrlo

1) Simmons, Robert and Ahsian, Naisha, The Book of Stones: Who They Are and What They Teach (Heaven & Earth Publishing LLC, 2005, 2007), 73-74.

The Roller Coaster Weave

Just finished a design that I am very happy about. It is a pattern that I will repeat and I am calling it the Roller Coaster Weave. It is my new template for bead rings. I have been wearing this ring today and I am in love with it!

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The wire base is 16 gauge sterling silver, hammered and structured into a circle. The weave wire is argentium sterling silver. Argentium is marked by .935 instead of regular sterling silvers .925 mark. This alloy contains more silver mixed with germanium. Argentium resists tarnish more than the standard sterling silver.

Rainforest Jasper (Rhyolite) is a beautiful and fascinating stone to look at. It is volcanic material formed by the process of heating and cooling in the magma or lava. It contains quartz with a composition very similar to that of granite. It is mined in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Mexico, India, Venezuela, Uruguay, Madagascar, Egypt and other parts of the world. Every area has its own version and appearance that makes it unique to that particular place.

For those who follow the metaphysical practices, Rainforest Jasper connects one with the earth and is helpful in connecting with nature and emotional healing. Its energy is known to invigorate and add to one’s positive attitude in the enjoyment of life.

Check out the listing in my Etsy store: https://etsy.me/2RcFOu9

Polishing Wire Wrap

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Wire Wrap Pendant

So now you have this beautiful piece of wire wrapped jewelry. It is a treasure and something special you want to preserve and take care of. I receive many questions from people about how to care for the stones and the wire. Wire wrapped jewelry is not something you want to soak in commercial cleaning solutions. Sometimes, a mild soap mixed with water will do the trick.

I usually list in the description of my pieces as to whether or not I have sealed the wire with a clear varnish or clear resin to prevent tarnishing. Even with sealing, metals will begin to show the signs of exposure to the elements of air, sun, sweat and all those other things you don’t necessarily think about like, hairspray or perfumes and colognes. These do have an effect on all metals including, gold.

When you do see a bit of tarnish begin to spread on your sterling silver or copper wire, one of the first steps you can take is to polish the metal lightly with a polishing cloth. Most jewelry stores sell these cloths, you just have to ask for them at the counter.

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Wire wrapped pendant being polished using a standard polishing cloth.

Another step would be a polish that will last longer and protect the metal. There are many products sold for polishing silver, brass and copper metals. These are good polishing products and they put a barrier of protection on the metal so the shine lasts longer. You can use a cotton swab to spread the polish on and buff it off. A rinsing of mild soap and water also does the trick for lesser tarnished areas.

For copper, there are some more natural polishing products you can try such as ketchup and toothpaste. It takes longer with these products but, if you have some time and patience, it can’t hurt!

The best way to preserve any and all jewelry pieces is to keep them in separate containers and sealed. Jewelry boxes are fine but, if you are like me, you know how that goes. I am not the best at keeping things nice and neat and separated in my jewelry box. I am sometimes very bad at quickly throwing my earrings in the box and not thinking anything of it. Well, nicks and scratches occur when we do this so, if you really care about certain pieces, you will want to take the extra time and keep things neat and separated. Little plastic bags are the best for preventing future tarnish.

As far as the stones, you don’t want to put any stones in any harsh chemicals. If you go swimming in the pool, take your jewelry off! The chlorine is bad for metal and stone.

Enjoy that precious piece of history you are wearing and yes, it is a part of history. Metal and stone come from the earth and it has taken some time for both to evolve, grow, metamorphose into the very thing you are wearing.

The Weave

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Ammonite fossil in copper weave bezel

The weave is the most beautiful wire wrap design to me. It is a design that goes back to the foundational elements of basket weaving. Basket weaving is a craft that is centuries old. In fact, because of the natural elements used in basket weaving, it is hard for historians to put an exact period of time when basket weaving first came into practice. The natural materials in baskets often decay over time so, much of what was created so many years ago has been lost.

Why weave with wire? Well, for one, it is strong. The weave has a “basket” kind of effect. It holds a stone and a shape very well. It is a beautiful, intricate display that catches the eye. The first stone I worked on while learning the weave wrap was a river rock. The more I practiced doing the weave, the most versatility I found in the design. The weave is the staple of my designs. It is the basis of most of my work.

I just completed this ring, which is a weaved band. The band is very comfortable and strong. Since it is done in sterling silver, it will need to be polished which, can easily be done with a polishing cloth. Polishing cloths can be purchased at any local jewelry store at very inexpensive pricing (usually between $8 – $10 and they can last many years).

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Faceted Aventurine Round wired into weave wrap ring

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Antique Cross Key

The Doodle Cross

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A few years ago I did some doodle drawings using one continuous line to create patterns. A doodle, by definition, is to scribble aimlessly. There was something about the flow of the lines that an idea began to evolve. The doodle is a lot like life. It curves, turns, overlaps, seemingly goes in reverse, and spirals. A doodle can seem out of control but, something special happens once the doodle is done, you see a magnificent pattern.

I created a design from the concept of my doodle drawings and called it, the doodle cross. The first design was commissioned for a priest who was getting ready to leave for Alaska. I am a bit of a collector of minerals and gems and I happened to have a nice slab of blue jade from Alaska.

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Natural Blue Jade from Alaska

The meaning behind the design: The doodle cross has significant meaning in the continuing walk with Christ. The cross is eclectic. There is silver and there is gold. There is a little sparkle of brightness here and there. Sometimes, it is bound because of the things that hold us back in life: fear, anger, pain, unforgiveness, jealousy, hate.

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Red Swarovski crystals and other crystal beads. Aluminum wire.

 

There are various red Swarovski crystals spread throughout. These crystals represent the blood of Christ. The Cross is a symbol used to meditate upon as a reminder of a sacrifice. It is not just about a sacrifice but, for those who believe, there is an ultimate success. In the midst of the unfolding of a plan, things seemed out of control. Complete chaos and struggle pursued and then, eventually, a death. Through the madness, sense of loss and despair, there was a light and the light meant hope. The doodle represents all the struggle and chaos but, also, a light of hope that all, in the end, is not lost. No, it is actually saved.

The Doodle represents a journey. It is sometimes smooth and happy. Sometimes extremely painful and lonely. Through it all, God is ever present. The Doodle Cross is a personal reminder that through the sunlight and clouds of our lives there is a Refiner and Purifier of silver at work; a Potter molding the clay.

 

 

Astro what?

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Astrophyllite – it’s not a baseball team. Sorry to disappoint the sports fans. It is a mineral with a mix of potassium, sodium, iron, manganese, and titanium. The wonder and beauty of minerals is the whole gourmet mix! Minerals are my specialty. I love them because they are not the typical items you find in commercial jewelry stores. I work with gemstones too, but, the mineral world is just as beautiful and eye inspiring and doesn’t get the attention is so deserves.

This special mineral is found in the USA, Greenland and Norway. The most precious material is known to come from the Kola Peninsula of Russia.

For those who like to know about the metaphysical stuff, this complex mineral has been noted to have the energy to assist one in self-acceptance, self-knowledge and forgiveness.

In this piece, is my weave style of wire wrap using traditional copper wire along with a bronze color copper wire. The wire is sealed with a clear lacquer to prevent tarnishing. The beads are sterling silver with silver wire and dyed, faceted Jade beads.

This piece is currently listed in my Etsy store.