Thursday, 5 March 2009

Antiquing with eggs!

Yes, you read that correctly, eggs!

This tutorial follows on from the Liver of Sulphur (LoS) one that you can find here. If you have been wanting to give antiquing silver a try but haven't got any LoS, then here you will find the information you need to try it with simple items that the vast majority of people already have in their kitchens.

A quick reminder before we start....
Giving your silver and antiqued patina may sounds like a strange thing to do to the uninitiated as we are basically speeding up the natural tarnishing process, but it is a way of beautifully enhancing the pattern on textured silver. I've chosen to oxidise the earrings shown here to highlight the texture of the wrapped wire.

Remember not to clean any oxidised silver with chemicals or by the bicarb of soda method as this will remove the patina. However, if you don't like the results you can use these to clean off the oxidisation and start again, or you can heat your jewellery up with a blow torch as long as it doesn't contain stones or beads.

You will need:
  • An egg (yes, I know I'm stating the obvious, but if I didn't put egg on the list people would only point it out in the comments!)
  • Your clean silver piece(s)
  • an air tight container
  • A saucepan for boiling the egg (and water - stating the obvious again!)
  • Clean water for afterwards
  • A soft cloth for drying your silver
  • A polishing cloth
  • A fine sanding pad (optional)
What to do:

Hard boil the egg and while it is still hot put it in your container and cut it open. I don't bother to remove the shell and usually quickly and roughly chop it up to expose the yolk as that is what is needed. Smell that lovely eggy, sulphury odour? That is what is going to oxidise the silver for us.

Place your clean silver in the container, making certain that it isn't actually touching the egg. I've found that if you've got egg actually on your silver, the oxidisation doesn't occur under the bit with egg on.

Quickly put the lid on the container and wait!

This method of oxidisation is slower than the LoS method, and as the sides of the container will probably mist up you will have to open up the container to check on progress. You may find it useful to turn your silver over to expose all of it to the eggy sulphur fumes. If you find that the oxidisation has stopped and you want your piece to go darker still you may be able to get it started again by reheating the egg in a microwave - please remember to remove the silver first though!!

Once the oxidisation is complete, clean and dry the silver. Now is the time to polish your piece if you wish to remove the patina from the top of the jewellery and leave the darker colours in the crevices of the pattern. As with the LoS method, you can use a fine sanding pad before the polishing cloth to speed the process up, and I tumble pieces that don't contain beads or stones that can't be tumbled as well.

I find that egg oxidisation generally gives a softer, browner colour than LoS. I don't use this method very often as I prefer to bake cakes with my eggs, but it's always a popular demonstration at classes, and a very useful technique to know for when you've run out of LoS and just have to oxidise something!

Let me know how you get on with your kitchen experiments, and as always, do leave any oxidisation tips you may have in the comments!


  1. Wow, that's pretty amazing. Great tutorial, and lovely earrings too!

  2. This is such great information! I've heard of this but never seen it before. Thanks so much for sharing, I'll be linking.

  3. These earrings are really pretty, I think I have a thing for briolettes... and for your blog!
    Oh, and I'm planning to try the oxidisation on a few things I have just finished.

  4. I do this, too, and like the more brownish color that this gives over LOS. The heat of the egg definitely makes a difference in the speed.

  5. Jo, will this process work on copper wire, as well?

  6. Thanks for the great comments!
    Alex, yes, this works with copper too. Have fun!

  7. That's really fascinating. I bet your classes are not boring with tricks like that :)

    Love love those earrings too!!


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