Slashpile Designs Blog

How to Clean Tarnished Brass March 20 2013




We've been doing some spring cleaning. As we were going through our old stock, we found these lovely hand-pierced tree necklaces. And let me tell you--they weren't this shiny after they had been sitting in the closet for 2 years or so, exposed to the open air. In some cases, an oxidized, antique look is really nice on a brass piece. But in this case, I really wanted these necklaces to look new and shiny.

This inspired me to find out--how do you clean brass? Lucky for me, I live in a jewellery studio (literally), so I just threw the pieces in the pickle (a funny name for the acid that cleans off oxidation) and re-polished them. Most people I know, however, don't have access to these tools and chemicals, so I decided to look into easy ways to clean brass at home.

     Sounds strange, but ketchup is great for cleaning brass. Just put a little on a cloth or paper towel or cloth, rub the surface of the brass, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth. (This method is my favourite.)
    Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into one-half cup of vinegar, and add flour until the mixture becomes a paste. Rub onto the surface of the brass, leave for about 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
    Heat 2 cups of water, and add 2 tablespoons each of salt and white vinegar to create another natural recipe for polishing tarnished brass. Use a cloth to apply the mixture to the surface of the piece you wish to clean, rinse and then dry with a soft cloth.
    It's as easy as it sounds--use straight lemon juice on the surface of the brass to clean it. You can rinse it with water and dry with a soft cloth.

If you try any of these out, I would love to see a before and after picture to see how well these methods work! And next time I need to clean a tarnished brass piece of jewellery, I will be sure to try one of these out and let you know how it goes!


If you are looking to clean silver jewellery using household items, check out this post.

Birthstones! November 07 2012

Today's Etsy newsletter started off with a blurb about how citrine, November's birthstone, is said to emit feelings of happiness, joy and optimism. This made me especially happy because not only is Citrine my birthstone, but it is also yellow, and I love everything that is yellow. That got me thinking that a blog post about birthstones and what they signify might be helpful for all the gift buying you'll be doing this season. Different sources list some variations, but this chart seems to show the most universal modern-day birthstones.


Here is my compiled list of the meanings and associations of each stone:


Garnet- Purity, truth, awareness, endurance, creativity and patience


Amethyst - Stability, balance, inner strength, sincerity, intuition and motivation


Aquamarine – Courage, friendship, creativity, health, perception and hope


Diamond – Eternity, good luck, protection, clarity of thought, balance and abundance


Emerald- loyalty, friendship, love, success, happiness and goodness


Moonstone- good fortune, passion and balance

Pearl- Purity, happiness, peace, love and generosity


Ruby- devotion, integrity, courage, success, nobility, love, enthusiasm and strength


Peridot- Power, influence, truth, loyalty, fame, dignity and protection


Sapphire- Sincerity, constancy, insight and wisdom


Opal- hope, innocence, happiness, loyalty, imagination and confidence

Tourmaline - courage, generosity, compassion and thoughtfulness


Topaz - Loyalty, friendship, strength, balance, wisdom and serenity

Citrine- Happiness, joy, optimism, rejuvenation, energy, and warmth


Tanzanite- Composure, harmony, understanding and sensitivity

Blue Zircon – Success, love, luck, and happiness.

Turquoise - prosperity, happiness, patience and good fortune.

How to clean silver jewellery September 11 2012

The vast majority of jewellery that we make at Slashpile Designs is sterling silver. We love silver because it's such a versatile colour and it's really affordable (especially when compared to other precious metals such as gold and platinum!) The one downside to silver is that it tarnishes. If exposed to water, or if left in the open air for a period of time, silver can lose it's shine and become slightly blackened as it oxidizes. But never fear--this is only a reaction that happens on the surface of the metal and it is, in actual fact, super easy to clean off!

Here are a few ways you can clean your silver jewellery using common, household items.

My favourite method is simply using toothpaste. Yes, just toothpaste. If you use just a little bit of white or light blue toothpaste (an opaque kind, not a translucent gel kind) and a little bit of water, you can get your silver looking bright and shiny again in about 30 seconds. I often just use my fingers to clean the piece, but an old toothbrush or a cloth can help you get into all the nooks and crannies.

Another method is to make a paste out of baking soda and water. You can use a clean sponge over the surface of the metal. If your piece is REALLY tarnished, you might want to let it soak for an hour or so in a mixture of baking soda and water. Again, you can use a sponge or old toothbrush to really scrub it clean after it soaks.

You can also buy a silver polishing cloth, available at most grocery stores. The brand we use is Goddard's Silver Polishing Cloth. Simply use the cloth to wipe the dry surface of the silver. It lasts pretty much forever and you can even keep it in your jewellery box so it's always handy when you need it.

In each of these cases, make sure your jewellery is nice and dry after cleaning to prevent it from tarnishing again right away. You can also make sure it stays shiny for longer by storing it in a dry, airtight place and by removing your jewellery before you shower or go swimming. By taking these simple steps, you can keep your jewellery looking fresh, shiny and new!