Liver Of Sulfur Metal Patina | Polymer Clay Tutorial

Liver of Sulfur - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #237: “I’d love to see some tips on how to patina different types of wire and metal.” ~Michelle-A

Although I don’t usually start out a new Volume Series with a tutorial that is not specifically about polymer clay, today’s lesson does tie in nicely with the last video from Vol-043-4: Fancy Rose Earwires. For the sample jewelry pieces in that tute, I used Liver of Sulfur to create an old-fashioned Patina finish on the metal earring wires.

Plus… I’ve received some recent requests asking for more information about how to use Liver of Sulfur for tarnishing metal in various types of jewelry making projects.

This may not be a question you are used to… but I want to use liver of sulfur for my chains and I have no clue what the best is to buy. I did find one for $10 dollars, and I would not use much of it. Can you answer this one? Hugs. ~Susan-P

There are a few ways to give metals such as copper, brass, bronze and silver an antique patina. One way, is to use Liver of Sulfur which is a naturally formed chemical that gives deep rich shades of patina ranging from golden yellow, red, bronze and gunmetal gray through a process of oxidation.

It is an easy and quick way to darken and give depth to wire and metal findings; to accentuate texture; or to give the piece a vintage feel. After antiquing a metal item, it can then be polished to bring back the original shine on the high spots, while leaving a beautiful patina in the crevices. This creates contrast and interest with stunning effects.

A liver of Sulfur treatment on the intricate wire work of the Fancy Rose Earwires, helps to accentuate the details of the rose petals and make them more visible.

Even though Liver of Sulfur is quite simple to use, there are definitely some tips, tricks and safety issues to learn, before using this chemical patination process.  That’s what I’ll be discussing tomorrow (Friday, January 6, 2012) in the Vol-044-1 members video at the Polymer Clay Tutor Library.

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Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-044-1 Liver of Sulfur:

  • Fancy Rose Earwires or any other Copper Alloy Metal findings, such as Copper, Brass, Bronze, Sterling Silver, Silver Plate or Silver Filled pieces. These should be non-ferrous metals (not containing Iron, so no Steel), as combining Iron with Liver of Sulfur can cause toxic gasses. Metals that do not contain any Copper, such as Aluminum or Fine Silver will not tarnish from Liver of Sulfur.
  • Liver of Sulphur. I prefer the XL Gel (Extended Life Liver of Sulfur Patina Oxidation Gel ) formula over either of the dry Rock type or the Liquid Sulphur. See video for reasons why. As a slower and less effective but cheaper alternative to using Liver of Sulphur, you can patina your pieces by placing them inside a plastic Ziploc bag along with a chopped hard boiled egg (shell and all). The sulfur contained in the egg will darken the metal.
  • Hot Water. Boiled water cooled slightly.
  • 2 Glass or Plastic Containers. Not metal or enamel.
  • Plastic spoon or stir stick.
  • Rubber Gloves.
  • Non-steel tweezers, tongs or spoon for removing pieces from the solution.
  • Baking Soda.
  • Towel.
  • Rubbing Alcohol and Paper Towel, or hot soapy water for cleaning metal.
  • Fine Grit Sandpaper or Metal Polishing Cloth.
  • Coffee Cup Warmer (optional).

The full version of the Vol-044-1 Liver of Sulfur video will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday January 6, 2012.

Here’s a sneak peak…


The full version of the “Liver of Sulfur” preview video shown above, is now avail for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-044 Back Issue Pkg.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

I can’t believe I was able to survive all this time (over 5 decades) without this wonderful site LOL. Now I get why everyone is always so psyched for Fridays! Anybody out there still not a member? GET ON BOARD. Have a great (claying) weekend everyone! ~Monique-U

I bought Cindy’s Beginner Course tonight… now I have her with me all the time. I can correct all the little mistakes that were causing me so much trouble. Just watched two of the videos and I have made some corrections in my beading technique. Well worth the cost… don’t know why I waited so long. I guess since I got paid for a dozen snowmen I felt that I could put them money to good use. Cindy’s videos make working with polymer clay a lot more fun and productive. ~Natalie-H

If you are not a member – join NOW! This is the best site ever. Want to learn more? Of course you do. The price of $3.32 a month, is unbelievable – you get so much for so little. That is $9.95 every 3 months – what a bargain. Tutorials, color recipes, the most giving group of “clay family”, advice and lots of tips from Cindy and Doug, stories to go along with all the lovely pictures. What are you waiting for (maybe a Christmas gift… to you?) Please enter into our clay world. ~Patt-W

The following topics are included in this week’s Polymer Clay Tutor Library, Liver of Sulfur video tutorial:

  • See examples of Silver and Copper Earwires and a Copper Cuff, antiqued using a Liver of Sulfur Solution.
  • Find out how simple it is to create these wonderfully patina finishes.
  • Learn important tips for mixing and using Liver of Sulfur in a safe and effective way.
  • Plus, with some creativity and ingenuity, there are many ways to come up with other unique uses of your own.

By the way, if you did not already know, those “shopping” links I provided above for the various tools and supplies, are “affiliate” links. That means companies like Amazon pay me a small commission if you click on the links and end up making a purchase at their site. It’s not a lot, but every bit helps in keeping the cost of my tutorials so low… at only $3.32 per month ;-)

The full version of the “Liver of Sulfur” preview video shown above, is now avail for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-044 Back Issue Pkg.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

Comments

  1. Nice tute coming up ! I have used Liver of Sulfur a few times. But, I have never been completely satisfied. So this tute will ,I’M sure, will answer all my problems ! Probably I need NEW LOS. So -as usual- we will be waiting for Friday !! YEAH………..

  2. 1/ I was curious about LOS since I heard you mention it in other videos as well. When I ordered Niobium wire from MetalDesignz last week, I saw they sell the XL Gel on their website. I didn’t order any since I don’t know how to use it, but I am happy to say that will change tomorrow!

    2/ Hope you are all (U.S. and Canada) entered in the “Sell Like a Pro Giveaway” at the blog.artbeads.com. Give a tip until Jan. 10 and you could win a set of professional jewelry displays, along with a marketing book and a box of price tags. Good luck!

  3. Like this tute very much and looking forward to it since I just purchase Vintaj BigKicks Machine. I wanted to add some metal to some of my polymer clay pieces. Thanks for coming up with a great tute, Cindy!! Plus, I haven’t used Liver of Sulfur before and this should be fun!

  4. Pretty basic question here—where is LOS sold? Michael’s? Hobby Lobby? Jewelry Supply place?

    If I don’t find some I’ll have to explain to poor Manny (husband) why I am putting jewelry pieces into a bag with eggs.(lol) Not much about me surprises him anymore but this might just put him over the edge (just kidding of course). Any help will be appreciated.

    • Elizabeth ( do you go by Betty?) -You are so funny. I’ll bet there are lots of laughs and hugs in you family ! Always love your postings………..

    • Elizabeth, I got my LOS from Amazon.com They have it in the Gel form in both a jar and a bottle like Cindys. Just do a search and it will pop up.

  5. I’ve never used the liver of sulfur. I did try the eggs with just an ok result. I see you can buy the sulfur at Dick Blicks and amazon. Looking forward to the tutorial.

  6. WOW! I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the little quote at the top of the page was from one of my messages!!! LOL, so cool – and timely. I was just telling a friend of mine Tue. that I was going to try and patina a tree that I’m creating out of brass wire for one of my paintings. I was going to use your previous method Cindy that’s in the library. I can’t wait to see this tut tomorrow. So excited!!

  7. Cool – I’ve also used LOS before but I’m sure I’ll learn something new from you Cindy! I also got some ammonia to use with it, apparently it intensifies the patina colours and allows you to get more “blueish” blacks rather than the brown black you get with plain LOS, but I haven’t experimented enough to learn how to get exactly the result I want yet. It’s very stinky but fun though!

    • Anna -When you Experiment – let us know your results. The ammonia sounds as if it would be a step-up in coloring……………Thanks

    • Anna, just looked at your Etsy shop. Love your earrings girl. What cute hedgehogs. Where did you get the knitted pattern? have never seen those before.

    • That is cool Anna, I didn’t know you could add ammonia to LOS. (Man there are so many neat things to learn isn’t there!!) I too would love to see the results of your experiments.

  8. Yikes! I bought some LOS gel a couple of years ago, used it once, and now have to find it somewhere in my messy studio. I am not as organized as Cindy ;-)
    Looking forward to tomorrow’s video.

  9. Hi all ,
    LOS very interesting Cindy. also you make it look very easy.
    I will have to try it,altho I dont do much metal suff.,
    interesting enough to want to try it.
    Love
    XXX Elizabeth K.

  10. Cindy
    What do you do to make sure the results are the same on the half that you were holding?
    Love this tut but still having trouble with making the rose colored ear wires … did use a mirror (I’m a lefty ) I could use some more suggestions … I realt want to get them right

    • Natalie dear girl, you are trying so hard to make those ear wires. I have got to applaud you for sticking to your guns. Some things can be very difficult for lefties. Just keep watching the video, it will get easier. It took me awhile to figure out that I had to move the rosette a quarter turn for each wire fold I made. This kept me from making the fold in the same place. Anyway it worked for me. I just finished using the Ultra Dome Resin. I had to make 4 tiles before I got it right. I probably watched Cindys video 6 times. I keep getting these tiny little air bubbles that I could not see even after using the lighter. When I put the tile in the dryer it looked fine. I finally got the 5th tile to come out air bubble free. If you get frustrated, just walk away and come back to it later. It just takes patience, fortitude and a lot of Moxie. Let us know when you succeed. (((hugs)))

      • Dixie
        Thank you for the encouraging words. I did take a break and noe you told me want I was doing wrong … I did not make that quarter turn…… I will try it again today and let you know how it turns out …. I also wachrd the video at least 8 times but I will watch it again using my mirror and your suggestion. Hugs dim me fog you encouragiment … I needed it

        • I don’t know if you ended up seeing my comment to you in the Rose Ear Wire thread Natalie, but I’m glad you are figuring that rose out. Some things can just take some time to wrap your head around. Looks like the quarter turn is the thing that was not clear. Now that it is, it should go a lot easier for you.

          In regards to dipping your pieces, I only dipped half the piece in to show you the contrast. When you dip your pieces, you can just drop it in so that it is fully covered, then fish it back out with a plastic spoon. Hope that helps.

  11. Yep — just as ordered ! A great tute. Guess my LOS died …..hehe. It is over 7 yrs old………..Now I have a really good excuse to buy the gel. Thanks so much for the info. Just love Copper stuff, so………..I can’t wait to try this out.

    You mentioned a product for stamping copper………ahhhhh… sure would like MORE information about that,please…………….. ;D (hint,hint)

  12. Back again and what good timing this looks like such a fun tute to try. I just need to purchase some LOS. I don’t do New Years resolutions but I try to make a short list of things I would like to improve on. First on the list was no more supplies unless I really needed it and used it right away. I think this LOS will pass as an I need item just hope I can follow through with the using it right away. Now I just need to keep my shingles from coming back a 3rd time. Thanks for a super wonderful tute to start the New Year on Cindy. As always Doug great job of filming. I sure have missed not being here every week. Thanks again for another fantastic tute. Many Uuuuugggs to all

  13. Wondering if the patinas I used for Stained Glass will work too. Cheaper per bottle and can change silver to copper, black…What do you think? I will try it I think I still have a bottle of Novacan liquid patina in my garage. Its liquid (smells too), just rub outta the bottle and about $5 bottle.

    • I can’t see why your Stained Glass Patinas wouldn’t work for your jewelry too Shelley. Give them a try and let us know how it goes. They might be a great alternative for people. Thanks for the suggestion!

  14. The first video I watched about LOS was using the rocks and I did not want to mess with those. When I found out I could get the gel I went for it. I used it the first time on a copper chain mail bracelet which I made from washers and it turned out really nice. I then used it on a silver plated spoon ring and what a difference it made! If you have never used it, please, please watch Cindy’s video a couple of times before you start and follow her instructions. This is really nasty stuff and needs to be handled very carefully but the results are worth it. I used some 00 steel wool to burnish the highlights and then used a polishing cloth for Copper. There are cloths for Silver and for Copper. They don’t recommend using the Silver cloths for Copper. I don’t know why but I got a cloth for each type of metal. I also use a short piece of wire and make a hook to dip it into the LOS if there is a hole in the piece. If I am dipping more than one piece, I count until I have achieved my desired effect. That way I know how long to dip the next piece. Hope all these tips help. Thanks Cindy for a really good tute on the LOS.

    • Dixie Ann, I think that there are two reasons they have different cloths for silver and copper. First, different chemicals are used to clean the different metals and the cloths are treated with those cleaners. Second, I know that a chemical reaction can occur sometimes between silver and copper, so it’s probably not a good idea to clean one metal after exposing the cloth to the other metal first. I know this is a little vague, but maybe someone else knows more detail.

  15. I love a patina on copper ; it looks so much more interesting. Would the stained glass patina liquid work? Cindy, do you have the Sizzix BIGkick Machine (Vintaj Special Edition) ?

    • I have the regular BigKick Machine Cherie, but I just picked up all the Vintaj Etching and Embossing Dies. (Which are awesome btw.) I will show how they work in a tutorial some time.

  16. Wow L.O.S. Have used it some years ago when I first started making silver clay jewellry but only were able to buy the “rocks”. So great to get on your site Cindy to realize that I am NOT keeping up with the times. Fantastic to know that the GEL has about a 2 year shelf -life. Just hope I can buy it here in the UK.

    While on the subject has any supplier taken up the challenge to stock PYM II. in the UK? Would love to get hold of some.

    Also excited about purchasing the “mill” to emboss sheet copper. Good to know that you earn a small commission with your shopping links but I get really mad when the “stuff” you recommend is unavailable here in the UK, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    I love that you are incorporating metal tutes alongside PC. It is sooooo great to know I can make a whole set of jewellry from scratch.

    Your copper bookmarks were a great hit and now are being used in Japan, Venezuela, Australia, Germany , France and USA. (Christmas gifts to my extended family from all over the world, as well as here in UK.) Thank you Cindy this was one of my fav. tutes!!! Although the postage this Christmas cost more than the items sent!!

    Now working towards my next Craft Fair in Hullbridge. Have met a really lovely group of different “crafters” and was kept busy doing 6 different fairs,up until Christmas so need a couple of months to re-stock for February.

    Just like to add that I laugh and cry, reading some of the trials and tribulations of my fellow claying artists but we have to experience pain and sorrow to appreciate the good times. That for me is every FRIDAY so once again Cindy and Doug you are an amazing creative and very generous couple and I wish you all success with your new venture……….. Cheers xx

    • Yeah sorry about the shipping to the UK problem Elaine. I do try and find products that are as easily available as possible, but since this is a global site, that can be tricky. Maybe if you are having trouble getting a certain product, you could try Penny Vingoe at ClayAround.com She is a polymer clay site out of the UK and she can often bring in supplies.

      Thank you so much for your kinds words and support to our community. I for one am thrilled to have you here!

      That is so cool about your bookmarks being world travelers like that. I hope you have lots more successes like that this coming year!

  17. Cindy, I’m not a huge fan of the dark patina that comes from LOS, but I enjoyed seeing a video of exactly how the process happens–your videos are always awesome.

    In the future, I’d love to see a tutorial on making green and blue patinas on copper and brass. I’ve read about how to do it numerous times, but I’m a visual learner. I understand that you can protect the green and blue patinas with Future.

    I found it interesting that the neutralizer didn’t mess up the LOS when you used the same spoon to mix them. Also when you dipped back and forth.

  18. Thanks Cindy for a really inspiring tute, I’m really interested in playing around with this!

    One question: Is it possible to treat a finished piece (for example a necklace with wirework and polymer clay beads) … or would the LOS affect the polymer clay?

    • Sure Lesley, you can dip already made pieces including pieces with polymer clay into the LOS solution without harming the beads. You may get a bit of a yellow film on the clay though, so make sure to scrub them with soap and water, or a baby-wipe after dipping. Glass beads and gems, just need to be rinsed since they are not as porous as the clay.

  19. Thank you Cindy this was helpful. I thought I was going to have to buy all sorts of special stuff and something about…pickling??? Maybe that’s for something else. Anyhoo thanks again.

    I feel like I’m etched in the annals of the pct blog now – cool, lol.

    • Hi Michele,
      Yep, another informative, inspirational video by Cindy! FYI, pickling solution is used to remove oxidation. Like firescale from soldering…or making your own sterling silver headpins using flux. No pickle needed for this project, but as you go deeper into metalsmithing…more tools, more supplies, Lol! ;D

      Yep, you’re certainly “etched in the PCT blog annals” now — very cool, indeed! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s happy you’re here… :~D

      The PCT blog sure has come so far in a relatively short time. So much amazing information…available to anyone who ventures this way! ~Kat

  20. Cindy- or Any member that can explain-

    I bought some liver of sulfer and have enjoyed playing around with the different levels of Patina I can get!!!!
    BUT the main reason I bought the liver of sulfer is to patina some copper to the beautiful blue/green (patina color in Gilders paste)!!!! I have not been able to acheive this patina with the Gel form of liver of sulfer. Am I missing a step or ingredient? I left the last wire form in the LOS for 10-12 hours – resulting in a black patina.

    Cindy, can you or anyone else HELP ME with this?? Another example would be the Pirate Bracelet Cindy made with the Copper Clasp/Toggle.

    Please HELP!!!!
    Kelli Nelson

    • Hi Kelli, happy to help! I am sorry to inform you that no matter how hard you try, Liver of Sulfur won’t ever give you the green patina you thought it would. The only patina it will give on any metal whether it is copper, sterling silver, brass or bronze, is varying degrees of browns with a purple bluish tinge eventually leading to black. The chemical reaction caused between the copper element and the Liver of Sulfur won’t create any of the greens or blue-greens that you are looking for.

      No worries though. You probably have what you need in your home any way, to create the green and blue patinas on your your copper, bronze and brass pieces you want. All it takes is a little salt and household ammonia!

      I did do a demo on how to patina copper awhile ago in the Hammered Copper Findings Tutorial.

      Hope that solves the frustrating mystery for you! :)

    • Hi Janet, I have always avoided using Liver Of Sulfur on polymer clay pieces, for fear that the LOS would stain the polymer. I have recently however, read somewhere online (Facebook group I think) where some one did some tests and their polymer clay was fine. It is something that I need to add to the test lab, so that I know for myself. You could try it on a piece that wasn’t super important, and see how it turned out. DO let us know if you do end testing it. People here (including myself) love to hear the results of other’s tests.

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