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Patina problem on copper


I seem to be having a problem with my liver of sulfer patina on
copper. i have a neckalce that is a pendant with double chain – all
copper. i dipped it twice in liver of sulfer, brushing in between
dips with a brass brush to end up with that gorgeous purpley/gun
metal color patina.

i wore one necklace at a show and noticed some grey coloring on my
skin – i live in the tropics and it was a hot day, so i thought
perhaps it was the patina in contact with anti-bug spray oils,
sunscreen and sweat. i did not wax or otherwise coat the necklace, as
i wasn’t sure what the best prodecure was.

i took the necklace of and put it in a plastic bag for about 2
weeks. it now has a lot of green scale on it. i used a brass brush to
see if i could brush it off and very easily and quickly all the
patina (including the green) came off.

so my questions are multiple:

did i perhaps use too strong a concentration of liver of sulfer? if
so, how do i remove the old patina and start over? or, do i just need
to protect the patina? if so, how should i coat the necklaces to
protec the patina? – wax seems to bulky and hard to get all over and
around all the links . . .

thank you so much for any advice!

Jocelyn Broyles
tel. 011.506.842.2107
fax. 011.506.653.0074


Jocelyn, In my experience with patinas on copper, they must be sealed
in some way to keep them from continuing to change (albeit more
slowly) in reaction with the environment. Copper is a very reactive
metal, after all.

The patina is just at the very surface level of the piece, so any
type of abrasion (especially brass brushing) will remove it. And,
unless sealed, the copper will continue to react with water in the
air, oils and chemicals on your skin, and anything else it comes into
contact with – changing that lovely purplish color into the more
typically found green verdigris that all copper “wants” to turn.

I’ve made several patinaed copper pieces. For flat pieces (or
reasonably so), I’ve sealed them with Butcher’s Wax and they have
stayed just as designed. For more complex pieces (with nooks and
crannies), I’ve used spray lacquer like Krystal Klear or Rustoleum.
You can use either the matte or the glossy finish, depending on the
effect you desire. For true “invisibility” of your sealant, the way
I’ve found works best is to apply in multiple VERY thin coats –
working outside, spray a mist of lacquer into the air and then pass
your piece through the mist. This avoids “clumping” or “drips” of

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller

Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry