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Daily Wire Tip: Working with Copper Tarnish
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
I use a lot of copper wire and like the look of high shine on some of my hammered heavy-gauge pieces. I use steel wool and it almost glows. However, the color and shine doesn’t stay on it, even if put away and sealed. Suggestions? Is the only answer a type of coating on it? Thanks.
-Kathleen in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hi Kathleen, ah the challenges of working in base metals. These include the temper and the dreaded tarnish! Yes, copper is pretty when it is clean-pink and shiny. BUT, the nature of this metal is to oxidize and there is NO permanent solution! All possible coatings or treatments are only temporary. Depending on the atmosphere and the amount and type of contaminants in the area, copper will turn all kinds of colors, especially green.
Do you remember when the Statue of Liberty was cleaned for her 100th birthday? A solution of baking soda and water is all that was used! The salt and acids in a human’s skin can cause all types of havoc with many metals, especially copper and brass. We have a new article that I would like to direct your attention to. Found on the Resource Center page under the heading "Caring for your Jewelry", Mary Bailey talks about copper and brass jewelry wire, including how to clean it in "How to Clean Copper and Brass Jewelry Wire."
My advice to you and all of my fellow wire jewelry friends is to "work with the metal"! When you use a wire that you know is going to tarnish in some way, use that feature to its advantage. Design pieces that resemble steampunk, vintage or renaissance styles and embrace the fact that those pieces will constantly change according to whomever wears them in whatever environment they are in.
Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong
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