Thursday, March 8, 2007

partial success at lilyriver labs

Before I sit down to ignore my schoolwork tonight (that is, to spend a few hours bending the last of my sterling wire into submission), I thought I would update on last weekend's round of projects (note that all my weekends are four days long, since I only have class three days a week, which I guess problematizes the term "weekend," but I digress!). I was so inspired by the Bolter's yarn science that I decided to give oxidation another try and had much better (and better documented) results this time.

I was working with some hoop earrings I'd made in what was something of a burst of inspiration, which is not to say that hoop earrings are original in any way, just that I suddenly saw how I could make them satisfactorily with the limited tools and skills I have. The copper pair is on earwires, but the design of the silver pair is even simpler, so I thought I'd really be able to see the results of the oxidation.

There are apparently many, many methods of evenoxidation available, one that uses only eggs, but I bought a compound called liver of sulfur, which comes as a smelly yellow powder. The last time I either more powder or hotter water. Since it was impossible to tell which, I used both this time. As you can see, the solution was quite a dark color, which alarmed me a little.

The tarnishing of the silver happened almost immediately, within about 20 seconds or so, and I took the hoops out pretty quickly after that for fear of ruining them. The color was exactly the bluish back I'd been hoping to get. The copper earrings, however, refused to darken, though I left them in for a good five minutes, far longer than you're supposed to. The spots I'd hammered turned black, but the rest stayed just as shiny as ever, and I don't really like the effect that created. But one wearable pair out of two is good enough for me, I guess.

And the silver hoops have proved very wearable; in fact, I've hardly taken them off all week (though the Bolter said I can't sleep in them, and she's probably right about that). I was a little disconcerted though when someone asked me whether I'd made my own earrings -- should I be flattered by that, or does it mean that I was right to fear they look like something a pirate scraped off the bottom of a long-buried treasure chest?

I have fewer reservations about my contribution to Ellen's package, which I think are my favorite earrings I've made so far. But I did just get my dinosaur fossil beads in the mail, so who knows what jewelry-making excitement is in store!

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