Hi Hilary -
You are working too hard. There is a very simple way to finish with
patinas. Try this -
Get your pieces ready for tumbling. Apply desired patina. Run mild
abrasive in vibratory tumbler - normal 3 to 5 micron finish. Voila -
patina in recesses, top layer clean. If you want a shiny finish, run
steel in rotary tumbler. You are done.
For more details, get the book - Tumble Finishing for Handmade
Jewelry. A lot of the Orchid supporters sell it. Amazon does not.
(Shameless self promotion.)