Adding the sparkle back to your wire jewelry….
Christmas is quickly coming upon us and many of you will receive a beautiful gift of a handmade wire wrapped pendant or set of earrings. The wire work sparkling as the light reflects from its’ surface.
Due to economic times and the skyrocketing prices of precious metals, most artists and jewellers have had to rethink what metals they will use to create with.
The choice for most artists is either copper, silver plated or brass wire; that is available in a variety of gauges and shapes. Brass with its yellowish - red colour gives the illusion of being gold like; which is a favourite. Over time, depending on the base metals used, the wire will naturally tarnish and loose that sparkle.
Some prefer this natural antiquing, while others may want to reclaim that shine.
There are many ways to clean and retain the shine of your brass and copper wire with commercially manufactured products or home recipes. When cleaning your brass wire, be sure to keep in mind the difference between acidic and caustic compounds though, and be sure to test a small section of the wire first.
Here are some suggested methods of both ready to use products and home recipes. Please note that these are suggestions and before attempting any, one must take into consideration also the types of gemstones that are used in the jewelry piece.
Ready To Use Solutions:
For Brass; Be sure to read the label.
Brasso: Simple to use as you just basically need to soak a cloth with the solution and rub the tarnish off the brass. Then buff with a clean soft cloth.
Nevr Dull: Yes that is the spelling of it. This solution comes in a can with pre-soaked wadding. Wear gloves to keep the product from drying out your skin, and use it in a well-ventilated area.
Tarn-X-Brass: Another liquid cleaner that attacks light tarnish. Be sure it says Brass as there are two types of Tarn-X. (experienced users do not recommend using the silver version)
Speed Brite: An ionic solution that works for cleaning both Copper and Brass that does not harm gemstones or beads. If the piece doesn’t clean immediately with the regular clip and dip method, use a soft toothbrush under running water afterwards, to assist the process.
Lemon Juice: To clean brass or copper with lemon juice, you can use it as is or mix with vinegar and/or baking soda.
- Mix a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice with an equal amount of vinegar.
- Add just enough baking soda to make it become a gritty paste.
- Use this with a cloth to scrub your brass or copper items.
- Rinse with lukewarm water and dry with a clean cloth.
Vinegar & Steel Wool: One of the simpler methods available for cleaning brass. Dip a soft cloth or q-tip in vinegar and apply to the wire. Then use a
fine grade of steel wool and lightly buff the wire.
*** After cleaning and to reduce tarnishing you should store your jewelry pieces in a ziploc bag.
***Above is an example of using Brasso. Earring on the left is "before" with tarnish and earring on the right is "after" cleaning with Brasso. There is a noticeable difference.
Jewelry Artists - Suggestions for Copper and Wire Coils:
Humidity will cause dark spots along the wire that we use when not stored in air tight ziplock bags. For copper or brass, you can run it through a piece of very fine-grade steel wool several times and then run it through a polishing cloth.
An alternative method is dampening a piece of an old T-shirt with rubbing alcohol and then running the wire through it. Afterwards use a polishing cloth on the wire.
I hope you find these tips and suggestions useful. Next time we will discuss the different types of wire for jewelry making.
HO HO HO Santa is just around the corner!!!
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