Antiquing brass

What have you found to be the best procedure for antiquing
brass? Liver or lime of sulphur? Since I am processing a number
of pieces at one time, what can I use to submerge them in the
solution. Would a plastic colindar work? How long must they be
submerged and with what do I rinse them to stop the
processing? I will wait to hear, thanks so Much…Marie Gottshall

If you are really going to do a lot of pieces, get in touch with
Birchwood Casey (Thomas Register) and get some of their brass
patina solutions. Very consistant color, long lasting material,
long lasting color, stable color, browns and blacks, etc. You
could try some gun blueing (good sized sporting goods store or
gun shop). Small quantities, about $5.00 and would do a lot of
items. Only drawback is these materials are for ferris metals
and not copper base. I use gun blueing on bronze and it works
fine (brush it with a brass brush and you can get deep purple
highlights). You might give it a try.

John Dach

I haven’t ever tried the sulfurated lime, but liver of sulfur
works fine on brass. There is also a commercial patina for brass
and copper, called Baldwin’s Patina, which gives a brown tone
antiquing. A homemade antique solution from sesame seed oil can
also be used, and has the advantage of providing a thin skin to
protect it from oxidation. Just rub a very small amount of the
oil over the metal, just enough to coat it and no more. In fact,
I usually wipe off more with a lintless cloth. Heat up the piece
with a torch, or like I do, just by turning my cast iron skillet
over the burner, and placing the piece on top of the skillet
bottom. This patina leaves a sepia tone patina which is very
flattering on brass. K.P. in WY

Marie Gottshall, there is a simple and fast way for antiquing
brass and copper.

In weight units

125      Coppernitrate
30        Nitric acid
1000    water

Put this on a wetted surface, Let your objects dry in between,
and spray or brush the mixture renewed on Heating up with a
flame or using less water speeds the process up. For your health,
do it outside with the right protection

Martin n

To second what John Dach said about the Birchwood Casey solutions,
they make a solution for non ferrous metals called M-24. I bought it
because I had not found anything suitable for darkening brass in a way
that was consistent. I’m very happy with it. It produces an array of
"antique" colors on copper alloys, depending on how long you leave it
in the solution. It gives a slightly different brown or “black” to
copper than liver of sulfur (a little cooler), some wonderful deep
greenish browns to blacks on brass. The active ingredient of the
solution is selenous acid. If you want a small quantity, try a gun
shop, or order larger quantities (in gallons) from B.C. directly.
Expensive (about $100/gallon - choke!) but it’s meant to be diluted
quite a bit. Unless you’re doing large sculptures, a gallon should
last you several lifetimes.

Rene Roberts

The right answer to this, and any question is…

It depends.

What sort of finish would you like to achieve? What size are the
products in question? Will they be worn, displayed out in a garden,
mounted to a motorbike?

Yes, in most cases a plastic collander will work, and it can be
something like a multiply-perforated plastic cup from Taco Bell. All
you are looking for is a chemically inert dip-and-drain vessel.

And, yes, since many patinas involve pH extremes, rinse well, let
dry, and consider a clear-coat finish to protect all that work.

KEEP RECORDS. Exact metal alloy, method of fabrication, size of
piece, chemical/concentration used, aftercare, and moon phase if you

Best Wishes, Dan Woodard
Indian Jewelers Supply Co.

Marie, I have found the simplest method of antiquing brass is to use
some of the commercial preparations like Jax Black (available through
Rio Grande and Metalliferous and probably elsewhere). Several
additional “colors” are also available (black-brown, green, etc.). A
bottle lasts quite a long time. In terms of submerging the pieces, I
have found the Tupperware pickle containers/makers (often available
at second-hand stores) to be very useful. They have in interior
sliding plastic platform onto which to place a few pieces. I use
about a 3/4 -inch of Jax solution at the bottom and just gently
"suds" the platform up and down. The gentle agitation seems to keep
spots from developing on the piece. When the pieces start to darken,
pull the platform up and remove the pieces to a container of water.
This is supposed to stop the darkening action, but it rarely does. The
next step (no need to dry the pieces) is to remove the antiquing in
the desired places by rubbing with fine pumice (I rub it on with a
leather finger-cot or while wearing a rubber glove). This gives a
fine, glowing shine to the piece which makes it look almost as if it
had been lacquered (something which I never do). Rinse very well and
dry. Hope this helps.

Judy Bjorkman