One of the biggest problems that I have in making multi metal sculpture is tarnishing and scratching.
I have tried many different surface coatings, from varnish to lacquers to two component poly- urethanes and waxes.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but the common denominator it that no matter what, tarnishing does take place eventually.
And when the sculpture are moved or cleaned, scratches appear.
There is a new product called Ceramix which I am testing out.
This blog post focuses on the clear coating only.
This is a layman's report, so I am quite open to correction and feel free to jump in if you know a better way.
Here is the link to the product.
Firstly, you going to need electro plating equipment, including a DC power supply that goes up to 30 volts and an oven and some technical savvy, but it is not difficult to use at all.
Legor in Italy sell their product in 5 kg containers and that costs about EU100.
My advantage is that it is within the Euro zone so my transport cost were about EU 30, instead of EU 100+ from the USA.
These are all the coating products I have on hand with the said Ceramix on the left.
The Incralac second from left cost the same price for one liter.
Stuff looks like coconut milk and doesn’t smell bad at all.
This is my set up
So I work the Ceramix like this:
I first finish the piece off and then use my Ultra sonic cleaner to clean it, as per normal jewellery methods.
The I electro clean it in the beaker on the extreme left.
Rinse it in distilled water and dip it into the acid dip.
Rinse it again in distilled water.
Then I adjust my power supply to 30 volts and dip the piece into the magic mixture.
Now here is where it gets weird.
The amperage ( in my case) goes from .3 and then drops to zero after a little while.
Then when the piece is pulled out of the mixture it is coated with a milky coating.
Then I rinse it in distilled water and all the excess magic mixture washes off and only the nano stuff remains on the piece.
Then I take some tissue paper and make a little tail of it and carefully let the excess drain into it.
Then it dries to a sticky surface and at the same time becomes clear.
Then I put them in my oven and let the water dry off completely.
The instructions sat you got to cook it for about 30 minutes at about 130C.
After about half an hour I switch the oven off and let the pieces cool.
The result is a crystal clear finish.
The top object has been coated with Ceramix and the bottom one has been coated with spray lacquer.
One can see the the top object has a slightly deeper yellow colour on the brass.
I suspect that this is because of the heat while the Ceramix is curing.
No matter, I prefer the deeper yellow.
Silver and gold are not affected, colour wise.
These were various objects before their coating.
After the coating the silver does not change colour at all.
The garnets in the eyes are free from any residue and although not completely visible in the photograph, shine as if they were just cleaned in alcohol.
The coating does not stick on non metallic surfaces, which is a major advantage, because the piece can be finished off completely before being coated, unlike solvent coatings like lacquer and urethane.
I made a mistake .
On the left, I dialed my oven heat too high and I cooked the tubes.
On the right are objects that were heated to the correct temperature for colour comparison.
This process is not really suitable for the casual hobbyist, if only because there is a reasonable startup cost, what with power supply, oven, acids and various plating elements needed.
The material has a shelf life of six months, although I suspect that the manufacturer says that more to give themselves some leeway.
I am quite certain that the liquid will still be usable after a year, if it is kept in a cool room out of the sun.
Once the coating has been cured, it is difficult to remove.
Nitro thinners, acetone and turpentine had absolutely no effect on it, even when left in it overnight.
In the previous picture the tube on the left was polished, which removed the coating.
In one case, an object that had been coated, had to have further soldering work done on it.
When I heated it up to soldering temperature, the Ceramix burnt off cleanly, leaving no residue, unlike a lacquer coating , which leaves a black coating if it is not thoroughly removed first.
It does not cover stones or non metallic surfaces.
It is hard and let me emphasize that.
It is very,very hard.
It is impossible to scratch off with your nail.
It is far harder than two component poly urethane, which is commonly used for bar counter tops, by way of comparison.
The technical reports say it it completely UV resistant and stable.
This is important for me but I can of course give no road test on that until some time has passed.
Since the object being coated has to be heated up to 130C, it would not be wise to have any expensive or heat sensitive gemstones in it.
It leaves an extremely thin coating, so thin that it is difficult to see if the object has actually been coated.
Even though it is a little finicky to use I really like this product.
So much so that I am going to re-coat some of my previously finished sculptures during the course of this year.