Alone Star Jewelry

A Note About Cleaning Fastfire Bronze Clay

Lisa's FastFire beaded earrings image
Earrings by Lisa Kirkeby

We had fun making our first project from Fast Fire bronze clay at Two Loose Beads. It’s been a while, and we’ve made other bronze pieces since, but the earrings shown here are from that first effort. We liked the rustic look of this clay and a couple of different finishes emerged. One is just the wire-brush with dishwashing soap and water, the petals polished a bit with a burnisher. Others opted for a full polish using a flex shaft and other tools to shine up the whole piece (see at right), which also looked very pretty and sold equally as well as the matte pieces. That’s a good measure!

Earrings by Cindy Patrick

All good! Yet recently I fired some new pieces and once again got a lot of ornery black that was difficult to remove, even with the flex shaft. I found an online solution to this problem, and I guarantee the recipe works! Below are some pieces that helped inspire my search; they had just been wire-brushed and washed, soaked a while and washed again. Still, I had the black that is seen around the petals. The little charms came out looking good, though! I don’t mind some of this black, but there is too much in the larger pieces.

I would have thrown these pieces into regular pickle but already had accidentally condemned to that a pair of bronze earrings made from BronzClay slabs I’d made a while back. They turned from a beautiful fired gold to pink! Turns out the copper left in my pickle was the culprit and we got plated! The working plan for this pair didn’t include grinding away my natural-looking surface–hence, the internet recipe. You can find one easily enough; I did and will pass along the recipe that I used and continue to use. The result was delightful.

Recipe: Make enough for one use, because this formula doesn’t last. The peroxide turns to water in a short while. The largest amount I make:

1 oz of 3% strength hydrogen peroxide (equals a full medicine cup of the type I mention next).

3/4 teaspoon of regular pickle (I use Sparex most of the time). Don’t use more than that. I use one of those small clear medicine cups with ounce markings. 1/8 ounce = 3/4 tsp

Pour the peroxide in a glass or glazed ceramic dish, then pour in the pickle. After your piece(s) are in, very small bubbles will begin to form and fizz off of them. The solution will become clouded. Use a wooden or plastic utensil to brush away the swirling bubbles and remove the pieces when enough of the pink or black has been removed. You don’t want to leave them in the bath because the surfaces may get bitten by the acid. It’s mild, and some like giving the surface a little more matte finish. Check out these after-images!

These triangles were cleaned with the peroxide/pickle solution. Every bit of black is removed. The oval pieces between them still have spots of pink, but in the photo below are the ones I mentioned above that were completely pink from pickle, now a pretty gold warm color. They are featured on Alone Star Jewelry’s Facebook page.

Recipe for Peroxide Pickle in larger amounts:

2 oz. peroxide / 0.25 oz. pickle or 1.5 teaspoons

4 oz. peroxide / 0.5 oz pickle or 3 teaspoons

Happy bronze cleaning!