Sunday, 9 May 2010

Alchemy and how clean is your house!

the second part of chapter 9 was 'playing' with metals and chemicals! seeing how the metal would react to certain substances and any patina produced. i had a quick tour round the house to see what i could find in the way of nasty substances and came up with the following. Goddard's silver dip, used to clean silver jewelry; Parazone bleach/toilet cleaner; Oven Pride oven cleaner; Dettol mould and mildew remover (its very damp here in the Wet Country); vinegar a mixture of white and balsamic and finally Liver of Sulphur (used to oxidise metals). we didn't have any yogurt and somehow it seemed like a waste of good yogurt to dip various metals in but i could buy a small pot!
the Liver of Sulphur is something i discovered recently when an oxidised silver ring of mine got scratched. someone at work said 'oh you need to re-oxidise that' and suggested Liver of Sulphur. now for the history lesson! apparently it's made from heating Potassium Carbonate with Sulphur and was known as long ago as the 8th century when it was first made by an Arab alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan. each batch is apparently different and produces different effects on silver and copper.
the above and next few pictures show my 'experiments' on various metals with my chosen chemicals. hope they aren't too boring. the best results in each case were on copper and brass.
Aluminium remained relatively clean and shiny whereas most chemicals seemed to corrode the tin cans.
the oven pride did something nasty to one sardine tin leaving only the plastic coating behind!

i knew that Liver of Sulphur worked well on silver but it was a great surprise to see a lovely dull 'patina' on the copper and it then dawned on me 'why not try masking some areas?' hence the small samples on the right.

i then tried further experiments. 1 shows copper, stainless and brass mesh burnt with a candle. besides the wonderful colours i achieved i love the sooty deposits. i have no form of heat gun! in the middle of stinking the house out a canvasser came to the door! not sure she believed me when i told her what i was doing.
2 shows a very thin strip of copper and ultra fine brass mesh burnt and scrunched/pleated.
3 tomato puree tube, just as Sian says has a wonderful colour inside. i love pleating things so tried with these. the orangy bronze colour is due to a 'plastic'? coating on the metal. once i had pleated or folded i scratched away the coating with sand paper, carefully as it tends to break fairly easily. i also found my fathers old hammer and impressed various cutters and shapes into them. the one on the left i cut into and turned bits back.i am now waiting for my husband to finish his tube of harissa to see what that's like inside (i can't take the heat or it would have been finished ages ago)!
4 the top one i used the outside of the tomato tube making holes with a needle and scraping away the printed covering. the 3 on the bottom right are all aluminium punched with a needle and sanded to give scratches to the metal, i have then rubbed wax crayon into the scratches. finally the one on the lower left has been punched with a tiny screw driver.
next ones above are copper. the top one has been pleated and hammered then masked with sellotape and oxidized with the Liver of Sulphur it was then patinated in 3 of the un-oxidised areas with Cupra, then the patinated areas were waxed by rubbing over with a candle. it gives a nice sheen and i think protects the patination. the lower one has been embossed with a cookie cutter and then patinated with Cupra and finally sanded over the raised areas.the final pieces are on copper mesh using shibori techniques and all treated with Liver of Sulphur. the very top one above is an ultra fine mesh which was pleated the next one down was also pleated in two areas and i stitched a line of coarse running stitches to see if that would work as a mask but it didn't really work. the lower one was pleated in two directions. i found there is a definite 'art' to how long to leave them in the solution, too long and it obliterates the lovely copper sheen.
with the last one i was getting very excited and thought i would try twisting the mesh with fine beads inside it didn't need to be tied as just twisting it held. it is so like a textile i am sure there are endless possibilities!!!


  1. Exciting stuff! you obviously have an affinity with metal, after seeing what you did with metal wire, these samples really do open up all sorts of possibilities.
    Thought you might be interested in Lynda Monk's blog she was one of the first bloggers i came across and I've been fascinated ever since, although I have to say I don't think it's my thing, but we shall see when I get there.

  2. 雖然不能常常來看,仍然祝你人氣百分百 ........................................

  3. What wonderful experiments. I hope you are using a respirator or protecting yourself from the fumes. I am reminded of a lecture in Chemistry from years ago. The professor said "and if you mix aluminum with tomatoes you get aluminumtomatoate."
    That was several decades ago and I still smile at that one.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiments with household products. Something I do from time to time but never thought of opening up a tomatoe puree tube.

  5. I found this post and most of your blog very useful. You definitely have imagination and your experiments inspire me a lot :)