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Oxidizing Copper

I was inspired by some beautiful oxidized rings I’d seen online, and thought I’d try to create them at home. It was a pretty big undertaking, but with the right tools and advice it wasn’t that hard at all. I thought I’d pass along some of this information to you, in case you’re feeling ambitious.

Here’s my supply list for oxidizing:

  • Liver of Sulphur XL Gel (you’ll probably have to purchase this in your country, it likely won’t ship cross border)
  • three glass bowls (I picked up some nifty little ramekins at my local dollar store
  • plastic spoon (NOT metal)
  • two sets of plastic tweezers
  • baking soda
  • warm water

and if you want to tumble your rings:

  • a basic rock tumbler (I picked one up at my local craft store)
  • stainless steel shot
  • a drop of Dawn dish detergent

 

some other useful things to have:

  • a strainer
  • a magnet
  • some paper towels
  • scrap mosquito netting

Oxidizing

Before you even start, you need to make sure there is no coating on the wire you’re using. If there is, it won’t oxidize at all (well, the cut ends will, but nothing else). I highly recommend doing a few test pieces with some scraps so you don’t bugger up your good jump rings. Copper oxidizes very quickly, a minute in the liver of sulfur solution will turn it totally black.

Set up your three bowls. The first one just has plain warm water in it. The second one will have the liver of sulphur, and the third will have warm water and baking soda. Here’s a great video to walk you through it:

How to work with Liver of Sulfur

A few tips on this. I found that my copper oxidized really quickly, and came up with a great solution to pull all the rings out at the same time. That scrap mosquito netting? Just cut a small square (a few inches larger than whatever bowl you’re dunking your rings into). Put all your rings onto this mesh, then dunk the whole kit and kaboodle into the liver of sulphur. This way, you can easily and quickly pull everything out at the same time as soon as you see it get to the colour you want.

Keep in mind, some of the oxidization will polish off depending on how you’re going to polish them.

 

Polishing

If you like the way they turn out, just dry them off and you’re good to go. Some of the finish might still wear off, so I recommend tumbling them with stainless steel shot. How long you do this will determine how much of the black wears off. My rings came out close to black, and turned out this soft shade after about 45 minutes in a tumbler with a drop of Dawn.

Once you pull them out of the tumbler, you’ll have a mess of soap, water, rings and shot. The easiest way I found to sort everything out is to dump the mix into a strainer. Give them a good rinse with water. Now, here’s where the magnet comes in super handy. Who wants to pick out a bunch of little rings from all that shot? Use the magnet to pull out the shot, and then you’ll be left with a basket of wonderfuly polished rings!

One last step, make sure you dry your shot properly, you don’t want it to rust! Just throw it on a baking sheet covered in tin foil, and throw it in the oven for about 10 minutes. Now you’re done!

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