Saturday, April 9, 2011


It's patina week here on Mabel street- I brought in a bunch of samples and did a little demo in my class Wednesday morning- then today, I had a client ask about putting a patina on a pair of gauged grommets.
in short, it's the vapors that do the reaction on the metal- makes it grow a surface of blue crud aka "patina"

I thought it might be interesting for my readers to see as well- give a peek "inside the studio" for non-metalsmiths as without further ado...... Here's a quick look at putting a beautifully textured blue patina on copper-

Here's a fun project- if you have a piece of copper (you can get a plumbing part from the hardware store) take a handful of sawdust, put it in a ziplock bag- add a bit of non-sudsing ammonia (to get the sawdust damp-(not too wet) add about a 1/4 teaspoon table salt....then mix it up (shake the bag around)

put your clean copper in the bag, cover it with the sawdust solution and SEAL the bag shut to keep the ammonia vapors inside, doing their magic...every hour or so go and check on it...

take it out of the bag- and lightly rinse- being careful to not rub the surface- pat dry, put it under a light bulb to warm up and dry completely.. the piece will appear that it hadn't changed much at first, but with drying you will see some patina/changes in color.
continue to bury the piece in sawdust mixture and check every hour or so to check the color development.
stop when you are happy with the colors-----be careful not to build too heavy of a patina surface, because it will tend to chip off. (the sawdust will get pretty grungy looking after a while.. that's ok, as long as it continues to have a strong ammonia odor)
Once I'm happy with the patina color I like to seal my patinas with either clear butcher's wax , renaissance wax, or a light application of clear spraypaint/fixitive (very light application only)

it's best to experiment with patinas on small sample pieces before you dive in and try to patina an important piece-

remember to use good ventilation, the fumes are really strong!

This is just one way to develop color on metal- there are many tutorials online and in books- There are many patina recipes and techniques- and many opinions... :-) it's up to you to decide which works for you, and how you want to use it.

Patinas are surface color only- they don't go "into" the metal, they cling to the surface- When you design a piece for patina make sure you don't use them for anything that will get lots of wear and tear (like a ring) or, if you do put it on an exposed area, you need to put a protective structure on top of it to avoid abrasion...

take lots of notes, do some variations (use distilled water/add more/less salt/ammonia, change sawdust type to different coarseness/wood type) and enjoy watching your metals morph into something beautifully colorful!
top right piece is unpatinaed copper- then clockwise, blue patinaed copper with liver of sulfur base, the three samples on the left are all copper with an ammonia, salt and sawdust patina.

Have fun-
may the flux be with you- ciao- Maureen

1 comment:

Lorena Angulo said...

Thanks for sharing this with us !!
I really enjoyed reading your post.


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