Liver of Sulphur and a Pig

by bethwicker on April 15, 2011

I have a custom order to make two necklaces for two little girls – one likes pigs, and one likes sea otters.  The sea otter has me stumped so far, but I finished the pig today, and must say I’m quite pleased with the result!  I wanted a cute pig that was the essence of “pigness”, and I think this little fellow fits the bill.

First I sketched him, then traced the sketch onto vellum, then used rubber cement to stick the vellum to my 20g sterling sheet.  Next I used an xacto knife to trace the pig through the vellum onto the silver, then removed the vellum.  I cut the pig out of the bigger sheet, leaving enough extra to make flaps to stick into my pitch, and to allow  for the final pendant shape.

Next step was to heat the pitch and stick in the pig, using tabs to hold him down.  Then I used Victoria Lansford’s repousse’ and chasing set to shape the pig.  I tried a variation on a tip I had read somewhere, and rubbed bur lube (available from most jewelry supply places; I used the stick form) on the back of the sterling sheet before inserting it in the pitch.  Worked a treat!  Very little pitch stuck to the back when it was time to remove it to anneal, and that was a super time saver!

I kept working back and front until I had the shape of the pig the way I wanted, and finished by chasing around the front edge of the pig, then planishing around the outside.

Next step was to trace the shape of the pendant around the pig, allowing for a tab to curl into the back to be the bail.  I purposely cut it uneven and curled it – to tie back into the pig’s tail idea.  I like trying to create bails that have a specific relationship to the piece.

After I filed and sanded the edges I tumbled it in Rio Sunsheen Burnishing Compound (LOVE the stuff!).  That gives a wonderfully shiny finish to silver, but I wanted the pig to stand out from the pendant, so I decided to add a patina.  I got my liver of sulphur (also from Rio) and took one tiny piece and put it in hot water in a small glass dish.  I had cold clean water in another small glass dish next to it.  My mother, who died in December, had a ton of these little glass dishes and I thought “hmmm…. I’ll be those will be useful in the studio!”  And they are!  I set all of these on a really useful mat I bought from Rio several years ago.  It keeps things where you put them, is waterproof, and generally a very useful thing to have.  I use mine all the time.

liver of sulpher set up

liver of sulpher set up

Anyway, I got myself all set up and got one of my smaller paint brushes, and carefully painted the liver of sulphur mixture onto the cold silver, let it sit, dunked it in clean water, dryed it, and repeated until I got the color I wanted on the outside around the pig.  I made sure to paint color up onto the top of the bail also.



When that was all finished then I signed the piece on the back.  I use an electric engraver I picked up at Harbor Freight, and literally sign my work and date it – not stamped.

pig back

pig back

I’ve heard of folks having trouble keeping liver of sulphur, but my can from Rio is several years old and still works perfectly.  I just make sure to seal the top fully each time after I take a bit out.

Now I just have to figure out how to make a sea otter look like a sea otter, and not a seal!


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Rasmussen April 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

absolutely wonderful. my wife loves it. our house is decorated in pigs and cows. our mailbox is a large pink pig.


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