Sunday, 1 March 2009

Adding Liver of Sulphur Patina

Liver of Sulfur offers us a unique "fix" of instant colour gratification.
It's quick to prepare, simple to use and can really make your work stand out!
Here are some patina options & usage tips, I hope you give them a go and send me pictures of your latest creations...

Types of Patina Solution
To get the variable colour effects described below then you need to use Liver of Sulphur, if you want "straight to black" I recommend Platinol. ;)
Dry chunk-form LOS (Liver of Sulphur).
This is what I use as it seems to give me the best results! My current formula is a pea-sized chunk to a cup of almost-boiling water, (each brand comes with instructions on the packaging).
If you use this type, make sure you keep it absolutely dry & store it in a cool dark place (or it'll be ruined)
I order mine from Whole Lotta Whimsy a lovely family business in the USA :)
Liquid LOS (Liver of Sulphur) Same as LOS above but in liquid form. Available in the UK from Cookson Gold in an amount that will run out of potency before you use it all up!
That's why I get mine from Petra over at (she does small amounts at a lower price point).
"Platinol" Oxidising Solution
This gives a deep black to pale grey finish. It's very good for colouring text on rings and pendants. Also excellent for a long lasting deep black on high contrast pieces.
In the UK it's available from Cookson Gold - product number 998 161A

Using Liver of Sulfur:
1. OPEN THE WINDOWS & ventilate your room = LOS really, really stinks (rotten eggs)
2. Stronger/hotter solutions = faster reactions (not always good if you want purples or specific colours)
3. The longer you leave a piece of silver in, the darker it will get.
4. LOS colours the silver in the following order: Golds, Reds, Purples, Blues then Greens.
It's final colour change is grey then matte black.
5. The best way to stop the LOS reaction is to rinse well in clean, very cold water.
6. If it all goes horribly wrong then re-firing will remove the patina and restore the piece to white.

1) Put some gloves on (protects you fingers from the chemicals & the piece from finger oils)
2) Make sure the piece is clean & grease free
3) Warm the piece in hot water (even temperature = more even results).
4) Dip piece briefly in the solution (if the piece has a hole or bail, use some wire as a dipper)
The patina will continue even if you take it out of the solution; the warmer the piece the faster the reaction. The moment you see something that you like rinse it off in the cold water solution!
5) Rinse and repeat until the darkness you want is achieved.
By going slowly you'll have more chance of achieving the colour you want :)

Extra Tip:
Achieving additional depth to your pieces:
1) Get to a colour you like & rinse it off
2) Use the soft brass brush & plain washing up liquid to pull some of the patina off
3) Repeat the process over again. Each time you repeat the colour tones will get deeper and even more gorgeous!!

Here's another useful article from Liver of Sulphur article from Ganoskin (great technical details),

Happy Colouring :)
Nic xx


  1. I am just loving all the wonderful tips here! I am just getting started and this is all needed and appreciated knowledge you are making it so easy to gain. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks for the LOS tips. I am going to try it for the first time on jewellery I made. :D

  3. Hi thanks, I have tried the above which works and is great but after leaving the silver for a couple of weeks the LoS on the silver that I washed and sanded off came back. How can I stop this happening?

  4. Unfortunately you can't really prevent it from happening as it's a natural part of the oxidisation process. Once a piece has LOS added it will also darken faster than an un-oxidised piece.
    The only way to slow the process is to prevent oxygen getting to the metal eg storage in zip lock bags with anti-tarnish strips or by coating the surface in some way e.g. Renaissance Wax
    Hope that helps
    Nicola x

  5. I want to use LOS to show depth within my pieces. That is to say, I want the stamped parts to retain dark colors, but the raised parts I be shiney and silver. When I dip a piece into LOS, the whole thing becomes dark and I cannot get the shine back. Thanks

  6. If you tumble polish before dipping it helps make the surface less porous & makes it easier to get the shine back after.
    Dipping the whole piece when you want selective contrasts will always make you work harder :)
    If I only want certain parts dark I tend to add Platinol with a small brush or cocktail stick (if you don't make it dark in the first place it's a LOT easier to get it shiny, lol) :D
    One you've added LOS to a piece it will always darken quicker than a polished piece.
    Hope that helps
    Nic x

  7. Ok, you mentioned 'platinol'
    what is that???

  8. It's what I use to do text on bangles etc and make it deep and grey blck instantly. You can see the description and where to get it above ~ tis brilliant stuff! :)

  9. Hi Nic

    Just about the posting re 4th Jan about the LOS coming back after sanding away

    If you re fire the piece - removing the patina and re buff with the papers etc - add the renaissance wax will this then stop the patina coming through - could you then re add the platinol (that I have just ordered from cook sons! many thanks) to the specific area would that help - of should I just not re apply any platinol after firing any thoughts

    Many Thanks
    Di xx

  10. Renaissance wax slows the oxidisation process (patina) by but doesn't stop it completely...
    It may also block the platinol so the result may end up patchy Platinol needs to go on before the wax :)
    Nic x


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