Oct 29, 2008

Patina Practice

I am slowly teaching myself different skills and techniques in making jewelry and working with metal. I love this whole world of the jewelry craft beyond basic assemblage and beads. My latest challenge is working with metal and giving it different patinas. After learning to oxidize sterling silver to give it that lovely dark black color, I was ready for more color. I love how copper looks when it has a blue or green patina. I also prefer the look of brass when it's aged, rather than in its raw gold colored state. After researching, I found a few techniques people use to get these colors with copper and brass. After fumbling a bit with a few heat methods and some pre-mixed chemical patina solutions, I think I found a successful way using ammonia. Here is the method I came up with:

1. I started with raw brass and copper. (not plated metal or coated metal) I used some brass filigree drops, and some copper chain. Here is what they looked like in their raw state:

2. It's important to clean the metal, removing any grease or oils. Don't skip this step as it can change the outcome. Use warm soapy water and dry everything completely.

3. I used a paper towel, but a cotton ball works good too. Soak the towel in ammonia. Be sure to do this in a well ventilated space as ammonia can be irritating and sti-nky!

4. Place the soaked towel into a large plastic bag that seals. A plastic container with a lid works as well. Place your clean metal into the container with the ammonia soaked towel, but not touching it. They just need to be enclosed in the same space. The fumes in the air change the color of the metal. * I'm not sure if having two different metals together makes a difference, it may. I made sure not to let my copper pieces touch my brass pieces, just in case it mattered. Here is how it looked inside the bag:

5. After less than an hour you can already notice a big change in the metal. After two hours I decided my metal had a nice color, and removed them from the bag.

after 45 minutes (still in the bag):

These last shots were taken at night under my kitchen lights, so they are not ideal. But you get the idea of the color change. First the copper after two hours:

and the brass after two hours:

The brass takes on this nutty dark brown color that is rich and lovely. The copper is darker blackish color. I did notice hints of blue in parts of the copper chain, that I loved. I decided to leave the copper in and see if I can get more of the blue to appear. You can see in a little section of the the chain below how it started to turn blue.

I am hoping that leaving it in the bag longer will give me this blue patina all over. I'll report back with what I discover.

No comments: