Monday, January 17, 2011

The incredible, handy egg.

I've wanted to play around with oxidizing—intentionally darkening— some silver pieces for a while now. About a year or so ago (probably longer, now that I think about it) I bought a small rock of liver of sulfur from an Etsy seller with every intention of testing it out on a small batch of silver. Well, I never got around to it and, long story short, it had gone bad by the time I tried it. "Yeah, that happens after a while..." my husband informed me. (Helpful now, honey, thanks. lol)

Well, I was working on a custom PMC piece for a friend to give to his wife for Christmas and that was going to be the piece that I successfully oxidized. To the Etsy forums! I had read before about using eggs to oxidize silver, so figured what the heck, I'd give it a try. It's really simple, actually. And not toxic. And not to mention good in salads.

The photos are from a new batch I just did the day before yesterday. You simply put your pieces to be oxidized into an airtight container—I prefer a clear one because I can check on them without disturbing them too soon. I used two eggs. You want the water to boil before adding them and then boil them for about 15 minutes or so. Once hard boiled, remove them with a spoon from the water and cut them open with a knife, quickly transferring them into the airtight container, sealing the lid. You want to move quickly because the heat and steam help the sulfur from the yolks darken your pieces.

Once they get to the desired darkness, you remove the lid, clean the egg off of the pieces by rinsing and wiping with a paper towel and then use very fine steel wool (I believe I used 0000 grade) to remove the oxidation in the raised parts of the pieces as you like.

I actually tried this batch first, removing the whites from the eggs once boiled, but they cooled too quickly that way and mostly my pieces just turned a funky yellowish color. Not very attractive. I boiled a couple more and just halved them and put them in the container and had much better, darker results.

These are a few of the pieces all polished up using steel wool. I imagine I will keep practicing, but I'm really happy with the results overall!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holiday traditions in my hometown.

Well, somehow or another, I have managed to almost let slip by the opportunity to show off a holiday tradition in my town, Mt. Healthy. Well, I lucked out and was reminded by a friend on Facebook of Three Kings Day (or Feast of the Epiphany for us Catholic folks). Every year since I can remember, Paul R. Young Funeral Home has been setting up this life-size nativity scene, complete with sheep, sometimes goats, a donkey or two and, wait for it... three kings (two of the three can be seen off to the right in the pic below).

When I was little, my brothers and my parents would take me up to see the animals and somewhere along the line, I heard that the statues were actually members of the Young family cast in wax. I have no idea if that is true, but it seems believable enough, so we'll go with it! We would walk up there a few times before Christmas, as it's only a couple blocks from my parents' house. Baby Jesus would show up in the manger late on Christmas Eve (if I remember correctly). Kids love to bring along carrots and other treats for the donkey and sheep. I just like to pet the sheep and goats when they have them! They are just so soft.

I finally had the opportunity to visit on December 30. Up to that point, it had been so cold and snowy that I just didn't feel like going out and standing around up there. That day, they ended up closing our office early for New Year's because many people were out using up remaining vacation days and that sort of thing. When I left work around 2 pm, I knew just where to go!

So here is mama donkey and newly born Princess Aurora (born December 27, 2010, said the sign there). Just three days old at the time of this photo. I am guessing she was born there at the nativity scene, but don't know for sure.

I've never seen a baby donkey before. She is quite cute!

The sheep and their babies were all snuggled up in a couple of big fleecy piles. I think I was the only one cold out there that day!

One of the few who was out moving around. Never got close enough to the fence for me to pet though, unfortunately.


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