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How to make crystal angel earrings

October 28, 2014

When I first saw the cool shape of Swarovski’s crystal dome beads (from their Fall/Winter 2014/15 Innovations), two thoughts immediately came to my mind – bell and angel skirt.

Dome Bead Innovation

Dome Bead Innovation

This tutorial shows you how to use these sparkling faceted beads to make angel skirts for earring designs. The exact same combinations can also be used to make single angels for pendants, bookmarks, gift tags, and more!

There are two styles of Swarovski dome beads to choose from. The large dome beads give you a more elongated shape:

#5541 Large Dome Bead

Article 5541 Large Dome Beads

The small dome beads have a more rounded out bell shape:

#5542 Small Dome Bead

Article 5542 Small Dome Beads

The main components of any crystal angel design are: halos, heads, wing beads, and bodies:

Angel Earrings in Progress

Angel Earrings in Progress

TierraCast makes a variety of wing bead styles. Additional wing beads are also available in base metal and sterling silver.

Various Metal Wing Beads

Various Metal Wing Beads

Popular bead styles for halos include heishi, and beaded heishi beads as well as rhinestone rondelles.

Metal Halo Beads

Metal Halo Beads

Here are several combinations of halos, wings, and bodies in different colors and sizes. For a complete parts list of supplies ready to buy, click each image below! (Or browse our Rings & Things Design Gallery.)

Heavenly Angel Earrings

Heavenly Angel Earrings

Lilac Shadow Angel Earrings

Lilac Shadow Angel Earrings

Angel in Training Earrings

Angel in Training Earrings

Blue Shade Angel Earrings

Blue Shade Angel Earrings

Christmas Angel Earrings

Christmas Angel Earrings

Forest Fairy Earrings

Forest Fairy Earrings

Other popular shapes for body include the Teardrop bead and the cone-shaped Swarovski Crystal Artemis bead.

Crystal Angel Earrings with Teardrop Beads

Crystal Angel Earrings with Teardrop Beads

Artemis Crystal Angel Earrings

Artemis Crystal Angel Earrings

Keep in mind that angels can be any color! Choose whatever colors you like for whatever mood you’re in!

Dark Fairy Earrings

Dark Fairy Earrings

No matter whether you’re preparing for Christmas or you’re a year round angel aficionado, take inspiration from these designs and create your own heavenly host.

~ Rita

How to make chain maille (from a kit)

May 14, 2014

Rings & Things has added a whole new line of enameled copper jump rings and clasps from Weave Got Maille, and a handful of Byzantine kits and box chain kits to go with them.

Weave got Maille Bracelet Kits and Jump Rings

Weave got Maille Bracelet Kits and Jump Rings

Melissa and I tested the kits, to produce some quick example pieces for our website, and I have to say, I think the kits are a great way to go for anyone who is new to chain maille, or to a specific weave of maille.

Weave Got Maille kit Chain Maille Bracelets

Weave Got Maille kit Chain Maille Bracelets

I chose to use the Morgana kit, which produces a 3-color byzantine chain maille bracelet. There are enough rings in the kit to make a bracelet up to 8 1/2″ long, but the final length can be shortened easily by stopping at the end of any completed unit.

Morgana Bracelet Kit

Morgana Bracelet Kit

The instructions are the property of the kit maker, so I won’t be listing the step by step instructions here, but the step-by-step sheet included has great close-up pictures and is easy to follow (and once you have made up the kit project, you have the instructions to make as many more as you like, by just purchasing additional jump rings and clasps).

Jump rings from Weave Got Maille kit

Jump rings from Weave Got Maille kit

Here are my thought and hints for weaving chain maille painlessly.

  • Yes, you do need two pair of chain nose pliers. Do not try using a pair of flat nose or a pair of round nose as a substitute. They can both be regular, or bent, or a combination of styles, but you want smooth pliers, because serrated nose pliers will mar the finish on the rings. The smaller the rings that you are using, the more important it is to have pliers with a narrow tip, and ones that are comfortable to hold. My personal choice for comfort and pricing are the full size wubbers pliers. The longer cushioned handle helps prevent hand fatigue and the tips are reasonably narrow. For extremely narrow tips, lindstrom pliers can’t be beat, but they are a definite investment.
Wubbers Chain Nose Pliers

Wubbers Chain Nose Pliers

  • To weave the maille quickly, you will need to pre-open some rings, and pre-close others. Only open the rings as wide as you need to slip them over the appropriate quantity of other rings. If you open the rings too wide, it is harder to close them neatly and tightly. For the pre-closed rings, make the closure as seamless as possible. It is much easier to close the rings neatly at this stage than it is when weaving. An illustration of the correct way to open and close rings is included in the instructions.
Opened and Closed rings from Weave Got Maille Kit

Opened and Closed rings from Weave Got Maille Kit

  • Use a soft surface to work on. The bead mats are ideal, since they allow you to “scoop” up the closed rings without catching on the material, and the rings that you drop (and you will) don’t go very far.
  • When weaving, rest your hands on the surface, or as close as you can comfortably be to the surface. The extra support will help prevent the project from slipping and rings from escaping.

One of the tools in the kit is a large paperclip. Attaching this to the beginning of the project accomplishes two things, it gives you a “handle” to work on the chain while it is short, and it reminds you which end you are working on.

Byzantine Chain first unit

Byzantine Chain first unit

Here is my finished project. You may notice that the design doesn’t quite match the design on the box. This is because I made a mistake on the second unit of the chain, by reversing my “b” and “c” colors. Rather than take it apart and re-do the section, I chose to work with this as a new pattern, and alternated each correct unit with an incorrect one. I kind of like the variation in the design. Sometimes errors allow for new ideas.

Melissa made a box chain bracelet, and then, having learned the pattern, designed this pair of Night in Emerald City box chain earrings, which also use Rings & Thing exclusive Swarovski ELEMENTS Karma Chameleon Crystal Jam and
Cubic Zirconia pendants

Night in Emerald City earrings

Night in Emerald City earrings

Are you a chain maille maker? Let me know if you have any great hints to share.

~ Rita ~

Lariat Round Up

January 21, 2014

I have been more and more drawn to Lariat style necklaces lately, and seeing lots of them pinned on pinterest. This inspired me to create several lariat necklace tutorials for the Rings & Things jewelry design gallery and to look to our other designer’s past contributions to this jewelry style.

What is a lariat necklace? It is an open-ended necklace with no clasp. It is fastened by threading one end of the necklace through the other. Lariat necklaces frequently have beads or tassels at the end, and are typically worn with the ends in front.

Foliage Lariat Chain Necklace

Foliage Lariat Necklace

The assymetrical Foliage necklace design is similar. Clusters of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS xilion crystal bicones are spaced along the curb chain, and again the chain goes through one of the charms to lock the second charm in place, however, the spacing of the bead clusters limits the adjustment to the final length that can be done by the wearer.

Tour de Belgium lariat

Tour de Belgium lariat

The Tour de Belgium long lariat design is designed to be worn doubled. A large fluted bead locks the charm dangles in place. Some adjustment to the final length can be made by varying the length of the doubled section of drawn flattened cable chain.

Giddy Up lariat necklace

Giddy Up Suede Lariat

The Giddyup lariat is made on suede lace with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. The ring is tied just off center of the length of leather, and the crystal briolette dangles slip through the ring. The metal components of this true lariat style necklace are plated, to economize.

The Ladylike lariat design is also made with suede lace. This luxe necklace pairs sterling findings with freshwater pearls and sparkly glass. While the components are minimal, the design has impact.

The Corralled Pearls necklace has no findings, and no metal. Thin leather cord, usually not strong enough for stringing, can transform into a bold design when many strands are gathered together. The use of a battery operated bead reamer allows the hole on these freshwater pearls to be made larger for stringing. Simple overhand knots create the loop (clasp) and also hold the pearls in place.

I hope you like this roundup of lariat designs. All of the components to make each of these designs are available right here at Rings & Things. Remember to check our design gallery for a variety of jewelry styles and jewelry design inspiration!

~ Rita

Make Margarita Christmas Tree Earrings to Make Merry

November 19, 2013

When you hear the word “margarita,” you probably don’t think of Christmas trees … unless you’re a fan of Swarovski crystal margarita beads! Christmas tree earrings made from these sparkling beauties are one of the most popular Christmas jewelry projects around. Plus, these crystal charm designs are super easy to make! So, grab a tasty beverage and a friend or two and have a good time making margarita trees all evening. Continue Reading…

Button, Button, What to do with buttons?

June 18, 2013

I love a good button. I think most bead hoarders have a button tin somewhere as well. The materials used for buttons range from the simple and inexpensive to exotic and pricey. Obviously buttons have a practical use in sewing and clothing design, but they can be great additions to DIY jewelry as well.

 

button box spill

button box spill

Buttons as beads:

Boston Bracelet and New Leaf Earrings

Boston Bracelet and New Leaf Earrings

By their nature, buttons tend to have either a shank, with an opening for thread, or 2-4 holes for sewing. These holes and openings mean your buttons can substitute for beads and work as connectors in jewelry design. See round TierraCast buttons with a leaf pattern in New Leaf Earrings and bone buttons sewn on the Boston Bracelet.

Buttons as clasps:

Dark and Dangerous Bracelet

Dark and Dangerous Bracelet

Whether for popular wrapped lashed leather bracelets, or for necklace designs, adding a button to one end of your design and creating a simple loop or series of loops at the other end will complete your creation. The Dark and Dangerous Bracelet uses a cast pewter Spiral Button for the closure.

Buttons as Cabochons or Cameos:

Cute as a Button Bracelet

Cute as a Button Bracelet

Disk & Loop Bracelets make up into quick finished jewelry by gluing buttons to the disks. If the button has a shank, you may need to trim it and file the surface, then add your favorite adhesive, and you have quickly created a new accessory. Cute as a Button Bracelet uses an assortment of plastic “accoutrements” by Tim Holtz for decoration.

Copies of Buttons:

Buttons, Molds, and Cast Reproductions

Buttons, Molds, and Cast Reproductions

Have a one-of-a-kind or vintage button that you love, but don’t want to part with? 2-part silicone molding material works great to make a mold of your treasure that you can re-create in polymer or resin and use time after time. Silicone molds were quickly made of the buttons in this picture. Reproductions of the buttons (without the pesky shanks) were easily made with Amazing Resin and SuperClear Resin. For more information on making molds, see our previous blog: Making Your Own Molds is a Hoot.

Buttons you can buy from Rings & Things:

Rings & Things carries buttons in materials such as bone,

Assortment of Bone Buttons in various colors.

Assortment of Bone Buttons in various colors.

plastic,

Plastic Button Assortments

Plastic Button Assortments

cast pewter

A sampling of pewter buttons.

A sampling of pewter buttons.

one lone sterling offering

Sterling Flower Button

Sterling Flower Button

and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal

Crystal Buttons

Crystal Buttons

 

Making a Button:

Resin Flower Buttons

Resin Flower Buttons

Do you have an item without holes that you want to use as a button? Easily glue a plastic button shank to your piece to create a button. These work great for turning resin, polymer clay, hand-made glass, and ceramics into useable buttons. Since these shanks are plastic, they don’t have the sharp edges that you sometimes find on metal shank findings. The set shown above are made from resin flowers, colorized with gilders paste, and attached with E-6000.

Changeable buttons:

Cast Resin Button Covers

Cast Resin Button Covers

With a button cover and some glue, you can create a decorative cover that can be transferred from garment to garment, covering the plain or boring buttons used in manufacturing. This set is made with super clear resin, colored with dye and glitter, and attached with E-6000.

Our pinterest board “Buttons” has further inspirations for using buttons and great handmade buttons.

 

~ Rita

How to Solder Glass Pendants

April 18, 2013

Our original tutorial on “How to solder jewelry with Simply Swank Tools” has been very popular. Unfortunately, we no longer are able to supply several of the supplies mentioned in the original post. I have attempted, here, to provide information on currently available products, and to answer some questions.

Pink is for Girls necklace

Pink is for Girls necklace

About Soldering

Solder is a confusing topic. There are two completely different soldering methods used in jewelry making, yet people rarely explain which type they’re talking about – much the way people say they spent the weekend simply “at the lake.” (If they are your friends, you do know which lake … and hopefully this post will help you make friends with solder!)

Solder is a metal alloy that is melted to connect or coat metal pieces. Soldering is the act of melting and applying solder.

The two soldering methods are:

  1. Soldering with a torch. Often called hard soldering, brazing or silver soldering, although copper, brass, gold and other metals can be torch soldered. There are different grades of hard solder (which melt at different temperatures, and just to confuse things further, are called easy/soft, medium and hard). There are also different solder formulas to match the color of various metals. This post talks about copper wire solder, which is meant for torch soldering.
  2. Soldering with a soldering iron. This is often referred to as soft soldering, and is used with base metals (like pewter) and plated metals. This is actually ‘tinning”, which means adding a layer of solder to a metal base. The solder is made mostly of tin and has a (relatively) low melting temperature. Soft solder is pewter or silver colored. Never use a soldering iron with precious metal jewelry: it will ruin the jewelry.

Therefore, if jewelry is made of silver or gold, it has to be torch soldered. Successful soldering requires heating the metal pieces, not just melting the solder, so if the piece is very large or thick, it’s probably torch soldered as well.

 

Poppy Field Necklace

Mollie’s Poppy Field soldered pendant necklace uses two #41-254-1 fold over crimp ends instead of jump rings

 

First off, not all soldering irons are created equal. There are many varieties on the market and most were not designed for jewelry making. The two most important things to look for are tip style and wattage. We recommend a minimum of 60-watt soldering iron with a chisel tip. The pointy tip irons are designed for tiny electronics like circuit boards and are of little use for jewelry, other than sealing jump rings. Lower than 60 watts might not heat up enough. The 60w Hakko soldering iron meets both requirements! The 100 watt Choice Iron and Rheostat combination provides greater control over temperature.

 

pointy versus chisel tip soldering iron

Soldering iron tip comparison

 

The iron on the left has a pointy tip (not recommended). The iron on the right has the recommended chisel tip, but needs to be cleaned! Soldering is difficult when the tip is black and crusty. Try using the wet sponge to clean the heated iron. If you can’t clean it any other way, let the iron cool and then gently sand off the gunk.

Next, the solder itself. It is important to use lead-free solid-core solder. Avoid solders that have rosin or acid cores. Rings & Things sells Choice, SILVERGLEEM, and Staybrite silver solder. All 3 work great with soldering irons; Staybrite is more expensive because of its higher silver content and included flux.

Third, flux. All solder requires flux in order to melt and flow. LA-CO Brite flux is a 6oz package, and is designed to be dripped or brushed onto your project.

Here is a condensed version of the process:

Preparing to Solder a Glass Pendant

Prepare your work area. Remove extraneous (burnable or meltable) items from the immediate area. I like to use a cookie sheet with a Non-Stick Craft Sheet on top. The craft sheet allows for easy clean-up of the drips and spills of solder that will inevitably occur.

Taping the edges

Taping the edges

 

Copper tape creates the metal base needed for the solder to flow onto.

Sandwich images between 2 pieces of glass and wrap edges with copper foil tape, peeling off the tape as you go. If you plan to add a bail or jump ring, overlap the ends of the foil tape where you are adding the hardware. Fold the tape over from the edges to the front and back of the glass, being careful of the corners (think of it like wrapping a gift). Burnish smooth (a sharpie pen works well for burnishing). Clean with alcohol to remove any oils from your fingers – a clean surface is the best soldering surface!

Shaping the solder coil into a snake makes it easier to feed onto your soldering iron.

Solder and Stand

Solder “snaked” for ease of application, Stand ready for use.

Prepare the Soldering Iron stand by adding a few tablespoons of water to the sponge in the reservoir.

retinning the tip

Retinning the tip

If this is your first time using the iron, you will want to “tin” the tip the first time you heat it up and always maintain that layer of solder across the tip. By tinning the tip, you prevent the iron coating from oxidizing, which is a real problem when you have hot iron tips. Oxidation can corrode your tips forcing you to replace them more often, and the hotter your iron the faster they will oxidize. Tip tinning creates a layer of solder between the air and the iron, keeping oxygen at bay.

Plug in the soldering iron and allow it to heat up for a couple minutes. Touch the tip to the damp sponge. The iron is hot enough if the sponge steams a bit when you do this. Holding the solder in one hand and the iron in the other, briefly touch the solder to both sides of the tip. You may have to “rub” the solder onto the iron to start it flowing.

Now that your tip is properly tinned, you can start soldering. Try to solder immediately after tinning the tip, the sooner the better. Tinning improves conductivity and makes soldering easier, as well as quicker, which is a good thing. Periodically while you are working , (when the solder doesn’t seem to be flowing well), clean off any globs of solder on the sponge and re-tin the tip. Keeping the tip clean is important but constantly wiping it on a wet sponge will lower the iron temperature, and can cause early tip failure. Properly cleaned tips are bright and shiny.

Keep the iron in the stand whenever you are not actually soldering with it. Unplug the iron whenever you are working on another portion of the project for more than a few minutes. This is not only a good safety measure, but it will also extend the life of your soldering iron. When you are not using your soldering iron, you should keep a layer of solder on the tip, so before putting your iron in storage, apply a fresh layer of solder to the tip to prevent it from corroding. If you will not be using your iron for an extended period of time, you may want to store it (after it has fully cooled) in a zipper type bag to protect it further from corrosion and humidity.

 

adding solder to the tape

Adding solder to the tape

Soldering a Glass Pendant

Apply flux to the copper tape. Touch your hot soldering iron to the solder to pick up a blob, and run the iron over the copper tape. Repeat. Repeat. (Some people melt the solder onto the tip of the iron and transfer it to the piece. I find I have more control by applying the solder directly from the roll to the tape.) Often you can pull the solder from the edges of the pieces to the front and back taped portions. Completely cover the copper tape with solder. If it looks lumpy, run the iron across the bumps to remelt the solder and smooth it out. Be sure to clean your soldering iron’s tip frequently. If the solder isn’t flowing, either the tip is dirty, your piece is dirty, you need more flux or you aren’t heating the piece sufficiently. Clips, clothespins or a third hand tool are all helpful tools for holding your piece while protecting your fingers.

The piece above is being held in place with binder clips, allowing me to hold the spool of solder in one hand, and the iron in the other.

Using pliers to hold the glass - don't burn your fingers.

Holding the piece steady with pliers.

Here I am holding a piece steady with bent chain nose pliers. Since flux can damage tools, and you may drip solder onto them, dedicate an inexpensive or already damaged pair for use in soldering.

 

adding the jump ring

Using hemostat to hold the jump ring in place while melting the solder blob with the iron.

Add a blob of solder to the point where you’d like to attach your jump ring. Apply flux to your jump ring. Use pliers or a hemostat to hold the jump ring on the blob, and reheat the blob with the iron to secure it in place (watch out: the blob will melt quickly, and the jump ring will sink into it. Do not maintain the heat on the blob or the jump ring, or it will all melt together into a mess). Clean off any extra flux with window cleaner or rubbing alcohol, file rough edges, buff with a polishing cloth, and you’re done!

Microscope Slide Pendants

Microscope Slide Pendants

Making soldered pendants is totally addictive. Microscope slide glass is an affordable way to indulge your pendant-making habit.

Piddix collage sheets are available in several sizes and shapes. The 7/8″ squares work nicely with the 1″ square memory glass.

The Rings & Things Glass Soldering Supplies provides all the basics for you to start out with a new skill. Just provide your own scissors, water, and work surface, and you are ready to go.

So, DIY and make some unique and meaningful collage pendants of your own!

~ Rita

Hint: If you love the soldered piece, but don’t like the bright and shiny finish, Novocan Patina will darken the solder covered parts.

Add color and shine with Gilders Paste

February 4, 2013

Gilders Paste, trying various methods and materials, and deciding I like it! 86-381-gilderspaste2 Rings & Things has added an assortment of colors. Each tin is 1.5 oz of wax-based medium, and is enough to cover 30 square feet of metal, wood, resin, et cetera. You can apply Gilders Paste with a cloth, cotton swab, or fingertip. Thin with paint thinner, turpenoid (but not turpenoid natural) or mineral spirits to transform the highly concentrated Gilders Paste for brushing, sponging, staining, washing or spray painting. I suggest having the following tools handy when you plan to colorize with Gilders Paste:

  • Soft Rag (an old cotton t-shirt worked well)
  • Baby Wipes
  • Small Mixing cup
  • Disposable (cheap) small paint brushes
  • Palette
  • Stir Sticks
  • Mineral Spirits – from the hardware or craft store.
  • Non Stick Craft Sheet
  • Apron

I don’t really mind getting my hands dirty. I didn’t have the foresight to use a craft sheet, so the table was gilded along with the objects. After I was done, the plastic table cleaned up good as new with some mineral spirits, and my hands cleaned up fine with soap and water. If you are more particular (and don’t want any gilding of your fingernails), you may want to wear latex or nitrile gloves. Drying time varies depending on substrate and surface preparation, approximately 60 minutes to the touch on dry debris-free surfaces and 12 hours for complete cure time. If polishing or burnishing is required, allow 12 hours drying time. Rubbing the base coat immediately after application with a dry cloth or slightly wet with thinner will remove Gilders Paste from the relief detail and highlight depressed details. Lightly brushing Gilders Paste over the top will highlight the relief details. This is patina color on a reproduction Ching dynasty coin. I scraped a little paste out of the tin, and then wet the paint brush with mineral spirits and mixed it together on the palette until I had a paintable consistency. mineral spirits I put on a fairly thick coat. 44-062 with patinaAfter an hour or so, I buffed off the excess paste, and this was the result (with a un-gilded example for contrast). 44-062 patina buffedThis is a nice use of the Gilders Paste for faux aging. The color was a bit paler than I hoped for so I mixed some African bronze paste into my patina color. patina and african bronzeI painted a new layer of paste onto the opposite side of the coin, and the new color was more to my liking. 44-062 dark patinaThis is a filigree cross in antiqued copper plating, which I colored with verdigris Gilders Paste. For this color, I still mixed in the mineral spirits, but I applied the color with a stir stick. verdigris cross After drying and buffing, the verdigris color is subtle, but it counters the reddishness of the copper metal. verdigris cross compare This color was nice, but I wanted a bit more shine, so I layered german silver Gilders Paste over the verdigris. german silver filigree crossHere is the filigree with the metallic layer lightly buffed off, and the original plating for contrast. german silver filigree cross buffedToo much of the verdigris was covered now, so I went back in for a 3rd layer, verdigris paste on top of the previous two applications. After some more drying and buffing time, this was my final result: filigree cross final My next experiment involved resin flowers. I was curious about the results on a highly dimensional, non-metallic item. I thinned out violet Gilders Paste, and applied it to 3 colors of resin flower with a paintbrush. violet paste on resin flowersAfter drying, this was too tricky to just buff with a cloth, so I touched up the high points with my cloth, and then used a dry brush to remove excess paste from the crevices. The two lower flowers are un-colored. The flowers with the paste have an almost velvety look to them. colored resin flowers This is another antiqued copper plated filigree. The piece on the right has iris blue Gilders Paste applied directly with a cloth. The piece on the left has been layered. White Gilders Paste on the filigree makes the iris blue top layer more visible. Both of these are dried and buffed. blue iris filigreeNext I tried colorizing some silver plated wavy disk beads. I thinned out the iris blue and damson pastes, and applied them to the beads with a brush. This is after buffing, with a shiny bead in the center for contrast. The lighter the metal color is to start with, the greater contrast the paste seems to make. wavy disksI tried out the rusty red pinotage color Gilders Paste on both silver plated flower charms and antique brass filigree. This was my chance to paint the flowers red. For these items, I added a bit of mineral spirits to my brush, and conditioned some of the paste directly in the tin. pinotageLastly, I wanted to mix colors, as opposed to layering them. I mixed the pinotage with the German silver Gilders Paste in the palette. Both of these colors happened to be creamier than some others, so I didn’t need to thin them down. I applied this mixture by brush to a raw brass filigree and got a lovely metallic pink finish. metallic pink The manufacturer says Gilders Paste will be permanent in 24 hours. It will accept an over coat such as clear lacquer, varnish, urethane, or powder coating to achieve a uniform appearance where the paste was not used, or to provide further durability to areas where repeated handling is required, such as a door knob. Due to the anticipated increased wear for jewelry, I tested 4 different products for sealing Gilders Paste.

The first 3 sealers all worked great. The spray sealer was the easiest to use, but the fumes from it can be quite obnoxious. spray sealed filigree I sealed one of the filigree crosses with the glaze, and the other with glossy accents. To me they look identical. sealed crossesThe renaissance wax, however, provided unanticipated results. Due to the cleaning components of this product, it stripped most of the color from the item I applied it to. The disk on the left was the original gilded iris blue wavy disk. The disk on the right has had renaissance wax applied, which lightened the color. It is good to know that this may work to lighten a color without fully removing it if that is ever your desired effect. waxed disk Be aware that the consistency of this product will vary from color to color and from tin to tin. If you have a tin with creamy consistency, enjoy it. If the product is crumbly, (whether it came that way, or you left the lid open) don’t ever consider it “bad”. You can re-constitute the paste with mineral spirits, a few drops at a time. So, having tried Gilders Paste, I’m hooked. Now I need to figure out what colors to buy to start my collection. ~ Rita

Cleaning and Polishing

December 7, 2012

Hi, guest blogger Rita here, with some information on cleaning, polishing, and keeping your metal jewelry clean.

There are a variety of products out there for cleaning and polishing, and whether you are trying for a specific finish, or wanting to keep your jewelry creations pretty after sale, knowing what to use can be very confusing.

Cleaning/Highlighting

Ultra Polishing Pads (also known as Pro-Polish pads) are fantastic for cleaning up purposeful oxidation (like Liver of Sulfur or Win-Ox) from metal. These 2×2” tight-bond foam pads are permanently bonded with micro-abrasives. They come 20 to a package, and will polish the high points of an oxidized metal including silver, copper, brass and bronze like a breeze.

ultra polish pad

This pad removes a bit of the material, so the polishing of this copper etched piece left a copper residue on the pad.

3M™ Wetordry polishing papers allow for fast and easy finishing and polishing on flat and contoured surfaces. Working from the coarsest to the finest grade will remove oxidation and produce a bright shine on the high points of a piece.

Polishing Papers Assortment

Polishing paper assortment

 

For large productions, the easiest way to clean up purposeful oxidation is with a tumbler. Load in your oxidized pieces, stainless shot, and Shinebrite. Seal the barrel, start the tumbler, and let it run for about 2 hours. When the time is up, strain out the shot and the pieces, return the shot to the tumbler barrel with clean solution, rinse and dry the pieces. You can shake the pieces in warmed sawdust, or speed up the drying with a heat lamp to prevent water spots.

tumbler and solution

A helpful instruction book is included free with the tumbler.

 

Sealing

The cleaning methods above do not leave any residue to prevent further oxidation, so you may want to follow up with a sealer such as Renaissance Wax. It is a micro-crystalline archival-quality, pH-neutral wax that freshens colors and imparts a soft sheen without discoloring. Apply a thin layer, and buff to a full luster with a soft cloth.

Renaissance Wax

Renaissance Wax

 

Polishing

For removing oxidation from regular exposure to the air, there are also a variety of solutions.

ShineBright Silver Dip easily removes tarnish to restore shine and brilliance to all metal jewelry. It is especially effective on Sterling Silver and works on 14K and 18K Gold, Platinum, and Copper. Do not try to use dip if your jewelry contains pearls, opals, coral, some genuine stones, painted or enameled surfaces. I choose not to use it if there are any genuine stones in the jewelry. Better safe than sorry! Dip will strip off all the tarnish in a matter of minutes, without much labor. It will also remove any intentional oxidizing, so pay attention to whether you want a completely shiny silver piece or not. It is very handy for chain and delicate items. Just place jewelry into the jar, immerse for 2 minutes, rinse with hot water, and wipe clean with a soft, lint-free cloth.

silver dip

Cleaning the crevices of these earrings would be very time consuming without a dip.

Polishing cloths (pads, gloves) all require a little bit of elbow grease. Unlike liquid cleaning solutions, they clean only the raised areas, leaving antiqued crevices unchanged.

This is the Brilliant Polishing Cloth that I’ve been using at my desk for about 4 years. Even after the cloth is dirty, it continues to work. Just don’t wash it. If you do, the chemical agent will be gone. The 7-1/2×12” cotton cloth is treated with a non-toxic, non-allergenic chemical agent which cuts through tarnish, and leaves an undetectable residue which inhibits tarnish from reappearing. It can be used on brass, copper, chrome, sterling silver, gold-filled, and gold vermeil.

brilliant cloth, used

It may look grungy, but it still works!

The Jewelry Care Cloth is quite similar. The inner 6×8” cotton flannel cloth is treated with non-toxic cleaning and polishing agents and tarnish inhibitors especially formulated for fine jewelry. The outside layer is for buffing, but without the chemical agent. It will easily remove tarnish, makeup, fingerprints, dirt, and oil. It is not recommended for use on emeralds, pearls, onyx, opal, lapis, malachite, ivory, coral, or 24kt gold. We can even special order these by the gross (144 pieces) with your logo printed on them for no additional cost.

jewelry care cloth

The custom order cloth is available in a variety of colors.

The #63-532 Dri-Shine Silver Puff is 2-1/2” in diameter. It is ideal for polishing small items. Silver Puffs were first introduced in 1975. The inventor was in the Indian Jewelry business and had his own special solution to clean and polish his products. One day, he was shining up a few silver pieces and his buffing rag fell into his special formula. He wrung the rag out and set it on a shelf to dry. A few days later, he had a piece of tarnished jewelry he needed to clean. Before placing it in the solution, he grabbed the buffing rag to dust off the piece. To his amazement, most of the tarnish was already gone! He realized the secret ingredients of his polishing solution were now embedded into the rag. Wanting to experiment, he searched the house for something more absorbent and came across his wife’s powder puffs. He soaked one into the solution and allowed it to dry. It worked like magic and Silver Puffs were born.

silver puff

This puff has been used to clean some wire.

Dri-Shine Silver Polishing glove is “one size fits all” and ambidextrous. Treated with the same solution as the silver puff, it is great for shining all your larger silver pieces. If you have a platter or silver pitcher to shine, put one on each hand, and shine away!

silver glove

The glove is more practical than fashionable.

Both the puff and the glove come in handy bags to keep them clean between uses. They are great for all types of precious metals, jewelry, gold, silver, copper, and musical instruments. With a non-abrasive, non-toxic, patent pending formula these products are sure to please everyone. “JUST RUB AND SHINE”. They can be used long past when they are black. Do not wash your puff or glove, or it will lose its magic.

Silver Shine Jewelry Cleaner is a non-toxic silver cleaner using traditional electro-chemical properties to remove tarnish on silver, but without the need for boiling water. It has no foul odors and removes tarnish from silver without damaging the surface. Each box of this silver jewelry cleaner contains a 4″ x 6″ two-ply treated silver buffing and polishing cloth, three special trays, a basket, and a ready-to-mix, proprietary silver cleaning solution. It all comes packaged in a wide mouth jar to easily clean larger pieces of silver jewelry.

Silver Shine Jewelry Cleaner

Silver Shine Jewelry Cleaner

 

There are plenty of methods for removing tarnish from silver, using materials typically found at home. For one popular method, you’ll need an inert bowl (such as glass or ceramic), 2 cups very hot water, a teaspoon of table salt, a piece of folded up aluminum foil, and a tablespoon of baking soda. You can also add a teaspoon of vinegar to acidify the solution and speed up the reaction. This reaction only works with silver, so don’t use it on other metal types. The more silver in your item, the better this process will clean it. Here is a video with the process:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsKLcc13WBo

Other methods include polishing with ketchup, lemon juice, toothpaste, and various other items. #62-690 Jewelry Fix-ups lists a number of these home remedies.

Jewelry Fix-ups

Learn various DIY cleaning methods in this book.

Protecting

Now that your pieces are clean and shiny, there are products available to help keep them that way.

Anti-Tarnish Strips are made from a special paper material impregnated with 3M™ TarniShield™ technology. One strip protects one cubic foot of air space for six months. Eight 2×7″ strips come per package. It protects silver, nickel, copper, bronze, tin, gold and plated metals from tarnish. Non-toxic, leaves no residue. Simply place strip next to polished metal in an enclosed area (jewelry box, storage bag, china cabinet, etc.)

Anti-Tarnish Strips

Fill in the date you start using the strips in pencil, so you’ll know when to replace them.

Silver Protection Strips by Hagerty are non-toxic, and will neutralize tanish-causing sulphur gases inside enclosed storage or display areas. They are designed to keep all polished silver-plated and sterling silver shining and ready to use for 6 months. Each pack includes eight translucent white strips measuring 2×7″, enough to protect 8 square feet of display/storage area. Cut into small pieces and package with finished jewelry to retain its lustre.

hagerty strips

These strips also have a space to mark the date you start using them.

Also available are these treated polyethylene anti-tarnish plastic lock bags. These re-sealable bags are manufactured with Silver-Guard™, an exclusive film that neutralizes the corrosive gases that attack silver plate, sterling silver and other precious metals. They keep findings and jewelry tarnish-free for 18 to 22 months, even when the bag is opened multiple times. Crystal and gemstones are safe in these bags, which keep working four times as long as anti-tarnish strips and tabs. Do not store below 5 degrees celcius (41 degrees farenheit). Package your creations in these special bags and remind your customers to use them for storage.

4 sizes

4 sizes are available.

Enjoy your clean and shiny metals. ~ Rita