In the first part of this series, I wrote about the different types of silver and how to give gunky old silver plate a deep, ‘restoring’ clean. Now that you have the lacquer off and this silver brightly polished, you have make sure it never gets back to the sad state you started with!
Because silver plate is such a thin layer of silver, you don’t want to give it deep cleanings before every show. Instead you want to store it properly and lightly buff it before showtime. Maintenance is key for silver plate! Here are some ideas how to keep it from tarnishing during its time off.
Weather fluctuation plus humidity are key for storing any tack, including silver. When not showing, its best to store your show tack and silver in a climate controlled environment. No, you don’t have to create a cellar set with specific humidity and temps to store your tack. A closet at home or the barn tack room will do. You really just don’t want to be storing your tack in permanently in the trailer, and damp basement, or attic.
Now, there are a few tricks to be tried for keeping your silver (silver plate and sterling) less tarnished. The first is something to be done after show season, when you have a long period of time before your next show. You can remove all or most of your silver bars, plates, and conchos and store them in a flannel bag intended to store silverware. This could work and won’t affect your leather, but it’s a bit time-consuming, and you’d have to be really good at labeling where each piece belongs.
On the other end of the spectrum, it is quite easy to take silica gel packets (you know those annoying little packets that come packaged with shoes) and throw some in the bottom of your halter bag or in your saddle carrier. The idea behind adding those is to help control moisture, especially if you live in some of the more humid areas of the nation. Humidity is one element causing silver tarnish.
The next idea for storing is a bit time-consuming and crafty: make an anti-tarnish flannel lined carrier. Because I have yet to find a halter bag or saddle carrier lined with Anti-Tarnish fabric, I’m wondering if it doesn’t react well with leather? I have not been able to find any reports either way, and fully intend to do some experimenting. With a similar idea of the ‘silverware’ bag, a halter or saddle bag lined with the anti-tarnish fabric could help eliminate heavy tarnishing. The flannel fabric is treated with a formula intended to capture and prevent tarnishing gasses. There are number of manufacturers producing anti-tarnish fabric like, Hagerty, Pacific Silver Cloth, and Silvertex (which can be found at your local Joann Fabric Store with the utility fabrics). The outer fabric could be any choice you prefer. Suitability makes a set of patterns for both saddle carries and halter bags.
There are quite a few “anti-tarnish” items on the market. Take time to read reviews and pick-out which method might work the best for you. I am excited to try making my own “anti-tarnish halter” bag in the near future (they only had brown fabric at Joann and I want black). I will post pictures and maybe a tutorial when I do!