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Patina torch


Was: Improvised wax tool questions

This question is prompted by comment in John Dach’s post to topic:
“Improvised wax tool questions”. It would be more properly addressed
to John personally but a private message to him bounced back.

Hello John, I was reading the digest and was stuck by your mention of
a “patina torch” you have constructed. I have been playing with
flame patina on copper but rather unsuccessfully. I am curious about
what factors go into creating - and, more importantly, controlling -
patina production. What are the characteristics of your torch that
make it a “patina torch”? Thanks for any insights you can provide -JD



One can use all sorts of heat sources for patination, propane bottle
torches being one type that is easily and cheaply available and can
be had with a number of different sizes and types of burners.
Problem is, at least for large sculptural work, the total BTU output
can be too low to get much done. I have a torch that has a pilot
flame so it’s not burning hard all the time, and an on/off
trigger/valve primary gas feed. It also has a flame “holder” at the
front end of the torch to keep the flame burning if it is a bit
windy. I found this unit years ago at a foundry going out of
business sale and it is my “go to” patina torch. LOTS of heat output
for large pieces, little gas consumption if not being used, easy to
handle etc. I still use bottle torches on small sections (hands,
fingers and the like) for finer heat control but to get the piece up
to near working temperature, I use the larger torch. I work it at
about 30 psi using a variable pressure regulator. It is portable (5
gallon tank lasts long time), relatively lightweight and small
compared to a regular on the bottle torch.

Also most bottle torch are screwed into the gas bottle and when use
them, you have to handle the bottle too. I have put bottle torches
on a supply hose but most are just not handy of very good to work
with in this setup, nothing to really hold on to, they are pretty
much on or off (no pilot flame and/or primary gas feed valve) and
they are not really comfortable in the hand to use for hours at a
time. I have used this “a tina torch” around other artists/foundries
to do patinas and they all comment on it as being a REALLY great
torch for patina work and I agree.

I see that you tried sending a message to me directly and it
bounced, I think you used MICE. net but it is MLCE. net (MidLife
Crisis Enterprises - our 20++ year old company name. Take a look at
our websites, all 3 available from the MLCE splash [age (first page
loaded). If any further questions, please feel free to get in
contact (H. 360.681.4240 cell 360.808.3813). We are in NW Washington
on the Olympic Peninsula. I hope this explains what you are after.

john dach


I would love to hear more on this topic myself. Thanks for thinking
of it and asking here, JD.



Thank you very much, John Dach, for the explanation of your patina
torch. Once my old eyes registered that the address contained an "l"
not an ‘i’, I was able to look at your site (love the name, btw).
What a greatcollaboration you and Cynthia have in the bronze
sculptural work. Each onemust be such an undertaking!

My interest in patinas is at a smaller (jewellery) scale and in
thinner sheet copper (0.5mm or so) because I’m trying to use it in
conjunction with fold-forming. So far, I have been using an
oxy/propane Smith Little Torch with a #7 tip. The main problem for
me is to get interesting colour development (blues, greens, yellows)
and be able to stop at the desired look.

I have found that placing the sheet on fire brick or in an annealing
pan usually results in overshooting the desired color blend. Is that
because the brick/stone continues to heat the piece after I have
pulled the torch away?

There seemed to be a bit more control holding the piece in the air
with tongs, and it permitted faster quenching. But I still overshoot
the desired colour. It makes me think I may be heating too quickly?

Any comments about my method and perhaps intensity of heating, or
other tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


I am a bronze caster, my wife, Cynthia Thomas is the artist. I have
been on this list for a number of years and like it a lot. I add
what I can when appropriate. As to patination, what is it you are
trying to do or are doing? Is it jewelry, precious metal, pewter,
copper alloys, etc. and if you are having issues, what are they? I
am happy to help anyone I can if you let me know a bit more about
what you are doing. Or if interested in general
conversation/discussion about metal coloration, that is fine too.
More than happy to help or discuss.

I am considering making some patina torches similar to the one I
have been talking about as there is nothing available at this time.
I will keep this list informed if/when I get something working that
I am happy with, until then, , happy to help/discuss metal
coloration of any and all types.

john dach


J Downie,

Interesting we end up with the same initials. I too noticed that in
some fonts, a capital “i” looks like a lower case “L”. I still love
the name we came up with about 25 years ago. and we STILL are in org

You might try a bigger tip but with lower pressure to get a softer
flame for your work. Also different “brick” materials might/should
give very different heat holding capabilities. The sore brick verses
hard brick. Kal Wool kiln lining. Ashes. Cinder. Etc. Also the
harlequin patina colors you are getting are usually very
fragile/transient. Here now - gone in a few minutes. These metal
colors on titanium are much more robust and tend to be pretty
stable, on other metals not so stable. They are difficult to keep
even with clear coating.

There is another metals discussion group, the Sandbox, an e mail
group. Here is the free sign up info and if you don’t want to be on
the list, it is easy to “sign off”: