Thursday, November 13, 2014

Shining is good for stars, but not for my metal..............

by Staci Louise Smith

When I made the leap from sterling silver to base metals, I knew I would have to grub them up to love them.  Bright copper and brass are just not my thing.

Liver of Sulfur is what I used for silver, and it worked just fine for my copper too.

I buy my copper wire in bulk, and take a good amount of each size off the roll, then dip it in LOS until its darkened.  I work with it in the antiqued state.  It is mess, but let me tell you why.

(Here is where I usually buy my copper:)

You see, I use all kinds of beads, including my polymer beads.  I cannot dip them in LOS....I have also found it effects other items too, like some fossils or beads that are coated so they don't crumble.  It has even antiqued the silver dots on ceramic and glass beads that I didn't want to darken.

(sample of my pieces with a variety of beads on them)

Another bonus to pre-antiquing my wire and metals, is that I can take them to shows with me and work on new things.

So this was going all fine and dandy, until I tried to use some brass.  Well, LOS does not antique brass very well!!!  I was told that Black Max does, but I try to keep the chemicals in my studio to the milder ones, so no black max for me.

I discovered (quite by accident) while making ball head pins and soldering brass, that if I take my torch to my brass it sort of dulls it up.  

Don't you love when that happens?????

Now, I don't use a lot of brass wire, but I LOVE this handmade solid brass chain from Rishashay.  

(sidenote:  I searched all over to find unique, quality, solid brass chain, and I cannot say enough good things about these guys.  I am really picky about my chain, but that is another post).

However, it is pretty shiny in person.  

So what I do, is I cut a length of it, fire up my butane torch and hit it until it gets red, sometimes a little less, and voila!  No more shiny brass.  Now you have earthy brass chain to use.

Here are some of my new designs that feature the dulled down brass chain

Basically, it is just giving your metal a torch patina, and depending on the amount of heat applied, the amount of time, and the oxygen ratio, you will get varying effects.  I like to play with the flame and time to see what shades of dirty brass I can get.

Please use all torch safety precautions ect ect ect.  Especially when heating metal, window open, fan, fume extruder, it!  Your lungs will thank you!


Judith Ann Boyer said...

Thank you Staci, great information! :) I love Rishashay by the way! Great company!

ca said...

I like the look and feel of the treated brass. I have a question because I want to work with brass this way, but hopefully can short cut my learning curve. Do you do any thing to finish the metal after you torch it? Ren wax or another kind of finishing product? Will the metal change over time and get shiny again or possibly duller? Thank you for the article.

stacilouise said...

I do not treat the chain or wire after I antique it. i polish the high spots and leave it be. i have not found it to change much at all over time, especially the brass with torch patina. it will not get re-shiny.

Anonymous said...

I've been making my own chain for a while now and while I love the custom links, I've not used a lot of the brass because of the "bright" look. When I want the gold color, I like antique gold and the brass just doesn't get it. Thanks so much for the idea of using the torch. Now I want to break out some brass and experiment. Sadly, it's too late at night, LOL.

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