Working with colorful metals isn’t just fun, it’s profitable, too, because metal jewelry designs that feature color in their own right (I mean that don’t depend on gemstones or beads for color) are screamingly popular just now.
Plating’s been around for a long time, of course, and some tinting and highlighting can be done with patination. Mixed metal work makes me happy, too. But when it comes to the brilliant, intense colors so many of us crave, these options just don’t quite do it. Lately, Kliar e-coating has opened the rainbow as far as color goes, but does add a bit of thickness to the metal and I lose that metallic gleam I so love.
Enter niobium I have always loved the colors I see in niobium pieces and now I find that the process that makes the niobium so colorful—anodizing—is also effective on titanium—and it’s available to me!
Rio Grande partnered with Reactive Metals Studio to expand our line of niobium and titanium sheet, wire and findings and offer the anodizing equipment and know-how needed to do the coloring myself! And, while it’s gonna demand some care and precautions, the process is easy. Check out this how-to video on How To Anodize Reactive Metals hosted by Bill Seeley, founder of Reactive Metals Studio and pioneer in anodizing titanium and niobium for jewelry making applications.
Likewise, who doesn’t love that smooth, brilliant color you see on all sorts of things made from anodized aluminum...like key chains and carabiner clips, hair accessories, and more. Smooth, cool and gleaming all over the place the way I love. Of course, the process for aluminum, though partially the same, is very different in many important respects (not least of which is that I can’t do it in my shop environment). But niobium and titanium, here I come!
Niobium and titanium are reactive metals (Learn more about Using the Properties of Reactive Metals In Jewelry-Making). In anodizing, they’re exposed to electricity in a controlled electrolyte bath and the magic happens (here’s how uncomplicated it is for titanium and niobium).
From metals that look rather like platinum in color, they go to deep bright rainbows of color and, wow, are they fun to create with. Here are a few pieces I’ve seen. I can’t wait to give this a try myself!
Have you tried anodizing yourself? Are you excited about the opportunity to try it? Leave us a comment and share the pieces you’ve made or tell us about your experience with these amazing metals!