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Married Metals


#1

I make pins out of brass, copper, and nickel-silver, using the
"married metals" technique. However, when the pins are polished
to a mirror finish, the color contrast among the metals is
entirely lost; indeed, one can hardly see any color at all. If
I oxidize them (using Jax-Black, or the like), the color
contrast shows up much better, but the pin loses brightness
(which is OK with me, but a lot of customers like “bright”).
Does anyone have suggestions for other surface treatments for
married metals which would retain/heighten the color contrast?
(I do not care for lacquers, etc., because sooner or later they
start to wear off and the finish becomes patchy.)

Thanks in advance!
Judy Bjorkman
@JLBjorkman


#2

I sand my married metal pieces with 400 or 600 grit sand paper
and leave it. It is bright but with a satin finish which shows
off the color contrasts very well. I also like a sandblasted
finish, but it can be risky as the solder sometimes pits from the
blasting.


#3

I do pierced overlay with silver over copper. Rather than
dropping the piece in pickle after the last soldering, I let the
piece air cool briefly (the copper oxidizes black at this point)
and then drop the piece into water. The copper turns cherry red
as the result of heat patination, the silver still looks like
silver. Anyway, that’s one way to heighten the contrast between
metals without liver of sulfur.

Lee


#4

Hi Judy – My experience with married metals is that adding
patinas tends to bring their color tones closer together –
darkening the copper and the brass for instance or turning the
brass a yellow green and the copper red or red-brown. I have
found that nickel-silver tends to be much more gray than silver.
The patinas themselves will differ in how they react with the
metals – some will color silver and others will not, for
example. You may have to play with the patinas you use and on
what metals. One thing you may also want to reexamine is your
design – if you have a lot of the lighter color metal, and
smaller amounts of the copper and brass, you may want to change
that mix around : oftentimes using the darker copper around the
outsides of the design with smaller sections in nickel silver and
or brass will change your perspective about the piece. Laura.


#5

Judy, Try sanding the pins with 3-M pads from Med grit to ultra
fine (I think Rio has a sample pack). Usually the matte finishes
pick up the color difference. Good Luck! Wendy Newman


#6

Try a fine emery surface or (my favorite) 3-M micron-graded
paper, 9 micron or 3 micron. The contrast is greater and the
surface gleams. I like the type with fabric backing (like
pellon) as it can be made to conform to irreguler shapes.
surfaces. 9 micron=more contrast, less gleam; 3 micron=less
contrast, more gleam. Clean surfaces well after finishing. With
wear, time the contrast increases as the metals oxidize
naturally.


#7

I do pierced overlay with silver over copper. Rather than
dropping the piece in pickle after the last soldering, I let the
piece air cool briefly (the copper oxidizes black at this point)
and then drop the piece into water. The copper turns cherry red
as the result of heat patination, the silver still looks like
silver. Anyway, that’s one way to heighten the contrast between
metals without liver of sulfur.

Lee


#8

I’ve only worked with mokume and mokume gane’ a few times in the
early 80’s. It was suggested to use a nitric dip ( six parts h2o
to one part nitric as I recall). The only types I were with the
solder method. The “etching” created a great graining relief in
my pieces. Be careful, use glass and caution. Yes it will ruin
your pipes and eat your sink! This is nasty stuff, wear gloves
and be well ventilated etc., etc.,. Better yet,ask a shop (local
manufacturer maybe?) to introduce you to the handling of acids
if you are at all unfamiliar. They are indispensible when the
work calls for them.

		Tim