If you're new here, this is a weekly blog post written by Sue and Ann where we tackle your metalsmithing and non metalsmithing questions. Having trouble with your solder? Need some help with stone setting? Have a problem 2 year old? We and EtsyMetal's 100+ members probably have the answer. If you'd like YOUR question answered in the future, please email your questions to email@example.com and we will get to it as soon as we can. If you'd like to read past posts, they can be found here.
So, this week's question comes from our Facebook page. If you're not following us on facebook, you can here. Sierra Keylin Jewelry asks:
I've just bought my first tumbler and was wondering what the opinions are on oxidizing pre or post tumbling? I really like a not soo shiny/rustic look to my jewelry and usually finish my pieces with a bit of 0000 steel wool. I really like the results but I have a few pieces that need to be tumbled for strength...just curious about your opinions!
Well, to be honest, I have never had great success tumbling after oxidizing. It's true, that great shiny gray color eludes me. So...when Danielle put this question to the group, I chimed in. How the heck DO you get that great look without all the oxidation coming off or looking blotchy?
I got a wide range of answers. Many of our members tumble first, then patinate and then tumble again to get a hematite look to their jewelry. Like this piece by Danielle Miller:
Some other of our members tumble first and then oxidize and use a brass brush, steel wool or bronze wool for a more rustic look. I, personally, will dip in very hot liver of sulfur about 3 times and brass brush after each 30 second dip. Then I bronze wool at the end. It gives me a more matte finish, like this:
There was A LOT of discussion about tumbling for strength. I personally think that tumbling for about 5 or so hours in steel shot hardens bracelets and ear wires but other members said that they disagree. One member, Mark Kaplan, cited a metallurgist on the Orchid forum who says the science of tumbling to work harden just doesn't exist. We ALL agree that the best way to work harden earring wires and bracelets is to either gently twist the metal or hammer the metal on a hard surface. Most of us use a rawhide, delrin or metal mallet on a steel or wood surface. This is the only sure fire way to harden any metal.
I think the best answer to your question is, experiment. I'm positive that is how we all came up with our individual tumbling and oxidizing rituals. I like Liver of Sulfur Gel, others like the old school chunks, still others prefer Black Max. Some members tumble with steel shot, others use vibratory media but we all have our own system that adds another layer of uniqueness to our work.
I hope this answers your question!! Please keep the questions coming, we are running out! Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get to them soon! Remember, they don't have to be strictly about metalsmithing...we have a wide range of talents!
Until next week, happy metalsmithing!