Monday, October 28, 2013

Copper Test Results Are In

If you remember from last time I wrote, we were testing different finishes on six little copper coils. Sorry for the wait, but I wanted to give each finish ample time to tell their individual stories. Here is what I found:

It has been about two weeks since I added different polishes to my raw copper coils. They sat in a wax paper coated pie pan in the shade on my porch. I live in Florida and we have had some really great humid days. With humidity and heat being a major factor to tarnish development, I thought this would provide me with the information I have been seeking. I work with a lot of copper, myself, and want to provide my customers with the best options for tarnish resistance.

Here are the final pics: First, here is the picture of the coil that was unfinished the entire time:
As you can see, there are many dark spots and it has lost its shine.

The next picture is of the coil finished with Renaissance Wax or Ren Wax, for short. I was sorely disappointed in the results here. To be honest, I finished a new Pendant and chain I recently made with the Ren Wax and wore it outside all day Saturday. While my neck did not turn green, the pendant turned color and lost the nice sheen I had given it with gun blue and lots of waxing. The results, overall, aren't as bad as the unpolished coil has, but I was still disappointed with the results. I have to say, however, that I only put on one layer of wax. I know some users put on multiple layers of this particular wax.

Next, you can see the results from the use of the Mass Commercial Paste. When I first put this on the coil I was amazed at the shine I got! I was immediately in love with the product. I had really high hopes but it, too, developed some areas of tarnish, about like the Ren Wax. Remember, however, when I finished each coil, I did only the top surface and did not try to get the finishes down into the grooves or onto the back.
The Maas Liquid finish came out like the Maas Commercial Paste. This coil also had several areas of tarnish. I was really disappointed...although I still love the product for cleaning and polishing. If you look closely, you can see the areas of tarnish I am talking about. These photos are not retouched. I want you to see the true results.
Last but not least are the Everbrite ProtectaClear products. This test was not to sing the praises of ProtectaClear. Trust me. Like a lot of other artists, I have been somewhat afraid that using this type of hard, permanent finish could flake off later. Here is the pic of the spray product, and it is still shiny. I have to tell you, I tried to peel the product off the surface of the coil, and it was as if it had become part of the coils surface.
Then there is the ProtectaClear brush on. I used the regular product that produces a shine, but they also make a satin finish product. The brush on won this contest, hands down. The coil was shiny, like the day I applied it. Notice the area where the tag is? You can see where I didn't put the product. That area tarnished. Hmmmm.

I also tried to peel this finish off with my finger nails and a serrated kitchen knife. I was able to mar the finish. After all, copper is a soft metal. But the finish did not peel. I was thinking it might peel off like bad nail polish. You know, like a plastic of some sort I would be able to get a hold of and peel off. No way! It stuck fast. I am told by the folks at Everbrite, that if the product is allowed to "cure" for a few days, it develops a really durable finish.

Here are some more interesting tidbits for your memory banks. Even though the Ren Wax Maas products still allowed the copper to tarnish, it easily cleans up when applied again. I also found that shining the coils without reapplication of Maas gave the coils a variety of colorful patinas. Unfortunately some of the tarnish remained, but the colors were fascinating!! The coils took on a kind of iridescence. I may have to play with that some more, as I love color, and fire (heating the copper to get color) isn't safe for me. I'm a little accident prone.

Another thing I found out quite by accident. I had a piece of jewelry that I used liver of sulfur on. I didn't tumble it or rub it out much and sealed it with PretectaClear. The copper turned really dark brown, even though it was sealed and in an anti-tarnish bag. I'm thinking that maybe the ProtectaClear somehow sealed in the effects of the LOS, even though I had given it a neutralizing bath in baking soda. Just food for thought. The effects have seemed to stop at dark brown, but I am keeping an eye on this particular piece for sure.

I am not trying to tell you to use or not use any of these products. They each have very different and endearing qualities. I wanted the information for myself and thought I would share my findings with you. If you have any questions or have found different results, please feel free to message me.

Until next time, keep on doing what you do...and Stay Wired Up!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

At Last, At Last...Copper Sealer Test

At long last I have begun that copper sealer test! Actually, I started it some time ago, but set the washers outside to "weather" in the Florida humidity just before we got a huge wind and rain storm. Needless to say, I didn't anchor the paper I put them on. Nor did I label them. I just labelled their position on the paper. Guess what...the paper got caught by the wind and the washers ended up on the floor. Okay, no one said I was a genius! we go.

I decided to test six pieces of 16 gauge copper wire that I coiled tightly, instead of using washers. Mainly because I work with tightly woven pieces of wire and wanted a little more accuracy of how each sealer worked when wires are closer together. Mind you, this is only a little home test, and the results are to satisfy only basic judgment of how each sealer works. So, if up on your own tests, you get different results, please do not hold me liable. I will plead the fifth!

This time I am testing Renaissance Wax, Maas Commercial Metal Polish Paste, Maas Liquid Metal Polish, Everbrite's ProtectaClear brush on coating, and Everbrite's ProtectaClear Spray. It's all I could handle at one time. Like I said, I used 16 gauge copper, dead soft, 99.9% pure, no coatings.

In the picture to the right, you can see the originals before I did anything to them. The only difference is that I removed the one on the top center. It was one that I was going to do with Maas Commercial using my Dremel. I already had one with Mass Commercial that I used a rag to apply. I figured it was too redundant, so pulled the top center from the test. I am testing only five and I left one in its original condition.

I only coated the spirals on one side and didn't coat the little hooks at the top, wore gloves like a good little girl, and did the test on wax paper. I've had real good luck with sealers not sticking to wax paper, and it protects the surface your working on quite efficiently. Trust me, I have spilled my sealers!

Here are a few things I noticed during the application process:

The Maas products, both the Liquid and the Commercial Paste, were the easiest to use and put quite the shine on the copper, brightening and polishing at the same time without much work at all. I used a non-impregnated polishing towel-like cloth you can get in any cleaning or auto department of your big-box stores.

The Renaissance Wax, see below, went on easy, as well. I did use a Dremel and cloth wheel to apply. The Ren Wax had to sit for a while before I could shine it up. You don't use much and it is dull until polished up. I used the same type towel-like cloth to polish it about 10 minutes later.

 The coil used for the ProtectaClear Spray, on the left with the blurred label, had to be taken outside to spray. I sprayed one side only and the coil seemed to have a lot of little bubbles on it for a while. When I laid the coil down, the sealer leveled out and bubbles disappeared. It takes quite some time to dry and cure. If you do decide to use this product, you can't just spray and go. You have to allow at least a couple of days to complete the drying process, unless you put your sealed item in a 180 degree oven for a while to speed it up.

 With the ProtectaClear brush on, above right, I used a small artist's flat brush and brushed on a fair amount. Again, the same principles apply as with the ProtectaClear Spray. Use wax paper, for sure.

After coating, I placed the coils on another sheet of non-stick paper in a pie tin and placed them outside. In fact, I just did that and it is raining, so the humidity will go up and we should get some cool results I can tell you about in a couple of days. And yes, this time I anchored the pan with something heavy so it won't blow away. Live and learn, right?

One other thing I would like to caution you on when using any type of sealer: wear rubber or nitrile gloves and protective eye-wear and use your sealer in a well-ventilated area. These products are caustic in some cases and may cause injury or sickness if ingested or splashed on the skin. Basically, use some common sense. That's all I ask.

Okay, we are on our way. I will check in with you in a couple of days and let you know what's kicking with these coated coils. Have a good one...and Stay Wired Up!!