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Patinas — Drying in sawdust


#1

Thanks to all who pointed out the Hughes and Rowe book on patinas. I’ve been reading through it and have a quick question.

Maybe two questions…

At the end of nearly every recipe the book recommends ‘drying in sawdust.’ Does that mean burying it in sawdust so the piece is completely covered?

I searched on google and came up with a few old (very early 1900’s books) references to the practice, but they just mentioned it in passing as if it was a common-knowledge thing and gave no instructions. (Most of the hits, alas, were about how to dry sawdust, not how to dry IN sawdust.)

The other question is what kind of sawdust? Is any particular wood better than others? And how fine should it be? There’s something called ‘wood flour’ on Amazon.

I suppose I should ask a third question: Is there a better modern way to dry pieces that have been patina’d?

Sorry if this is one of those really basic things everyone knows (except me, obviously).

(I did read the articles here on Ganoksin about patina-ing, so my apologies if the answer is in there and I don’t remember it.)

Thanks for any help.

Tricia


#2

This is my “go to” book for bronze sculpture patinas. They work…. I found that many of the recipes in the Hughes and Rowe book did not work, some not well and some not at all.


#3

Thanks, John.

Will the patinas in that book work on regular copper + tin bronze? I get mine from Rio Grande. I also use other base metals and various silvers (sterling, argentium, fine). Keeping all the different brasses straight is a chore sometimes, but necessary.

I make small pieces and jewelry, so not anything I’d call sculptures.

I’ve seen a number of the recipes in the Hughes & Rowe book in other places as well, so I’ll take notes as I go. (One never knows if the recipe is tried-and-true, or just being repeated from the same source.) The black triangle ones are off the table for me, and I’m starting with the more common ones, so I hope I can see some results.

Still, not sure about the drying process. I’ll keep researching it.


#4

There’s another really good patina book with great recipes in it, as well as photos of what each patina looks like on copper, brass and bronze. This is it:
Patina: 300+ Coloration Effects for Jewelers & Metalsmiths Hardcover – February 28, 2014
by Matthew Runfola (Author)


#5

I think drying in sawdust is simply for gentle absorption, such as avoidance of the residual evidence of a water drip when air drying, or unintended damage from touching the patina when towel drying - sawdust in this case could be described as an unspecified gentle drying material.

In an effort to have less stuff and to limit the quantity of flammables, for gentle drying I use the corn cob meal I usually use in a tumbler for polishing because I already have it.

However, if the instructions indicate using sawdust during the patina process in order to achieve a textured pattern, then in this case the final results depend on using specific materials.


#6

I regularly dried pieces in sawdust for decades. It was a common practice and all the jewelry supply stores carried the sawdust for this purpose. It’s great for pieces with a lot of detailing, as it gets into and dries tiny nooks and crannies. It’s particularly good for filigree and granulated pieces.


#7

Thanks, John.

Will the patinas in that book work on regular copper + tin bronze?

They are specifically for bronze but saying that, as far as I know, the majority of reactions are taking place with the copper. Trial and error is most often called for. Tin bronze (Ancient Bronze) will react but the colors are often a bit different, again experimentation is what works best here. Even different people using the same patina on the same alloy get different colorations, differences in heat on/in the piece, exactly how they apply it (wetter/drier), their karma…… One companies Everdur alloy can react a bit differently than a different companies alloy, again, small variations of “contaminants” (other trace metals) can make small differences.

I get mine from Rio Grande. I also use other base metals and various silvers (sterling, argentium, fine). Keeping all the different brasses straight is a chore sometimes, but necessary.

Yes it can be but that is one part of patination/metal coloration that makes it unique to the artist.

I make small pieces and jewelry, so not anything I’d call sculptures.

The biggest problem you might have is keeping the small pieces evenly heated and maintaining that temperature for the total time needed to get the coloration done. With bigger bronzes, maintaining the heat one wants can be easier but even on sculptures, extremities, especially fingers and wing tips want to cool far faster that than the “body” of a piece. You get a feel for this and how to deal with it but it does raise it’s head at times and gives one problems. One reason there are folks who just do patination, it is an art, it is technical and there are a LOT of potential variations.

I’ve seen a number of the recipes in the Hughes & Rowe book in other places as well, so I’ll take notes as I go. (One never knows if the recipe is tried-and-true, or just being repeated from the same source.) The black triangle ones are off the table for me, and I’m starting with the more common ones, so I hope I can see some results.

Still, not sure about the drying process. I’ll keep researching it.

If you are after browns or blacks, I would HIGHLY recommend you at least give the Selenic acid (Birchwood Casey patinas). You can get these from Sculpt Nouveau and again, I would e mail or call them as have a bit of a discussion about what you are wanting to do. The B.C. products are cold patinas so one gets around the heating problems. With small pieces, you can use a small brush and make areas darker (more “washes” with a weaker solution) so you can get, with practice, shading that can be really nice.

Patination is a vast area of trial and error, making your own chemistries at times/as needed (my homemade ferric nitrate is VERY different from the “chemically concocted” materials, giving vastly broader colorations, more reds and on and on, I use very old railroad spikes that we found way out in the “no where” years ago for the metal, with all the contaminants of older smelting processes and different ways they made steels back then verses today). Probably more than mose would ever want to know or hear about.

Good luck and again questions, thoughts, comments are most welcomed.

john


#8

Maybe this conversation started in a different thread, but I don’t remember the previous discussion.

I don’t have “Patinas for Silicon Bronze”, although I do have the other two books mentioned in this thread.

However, I really like a couple of books not mentioned:
“Contemporary Patination for bronze brass and copper” by Ronald Young,
and “Japanese Patinas” by Eitoku Sugimori.

Both of these books include information about tin in bronze alloys.

I think these books include information not in Hughes and Rowe’s book, nor Runfola’s book.


#9

Hi, Janet,

Thanks for responding. Do you mind if I ask a few more (very) granular questions about it?

Did you have a container of sawdust and bury the piece in it for a while (a day? two?)? If so, was it regular sawdust (say medium) or finer than that?

Did you bury it wet? Did you rinsed the piece when it came out of the patina solution, and cleaned however you cleaned it, then without drying it off, buried it in the sawdust. Is that the right sequence of steps?

Sorry for being so step-by-step with this, but I end up reaching a place where I don’t know what to do next and often stop. I’m hoping to get beyond that.


#10

John,

Thanks again for the info. I totally get about finding old railroad spikes.

The selenic acid (is that the same as selenium?) sounds familiar — is it the same stuff as is used in the old-style black and white photography? (Also something I loved once upon a time.)

As for evenly heating the pieces, the Hughes and Rowe book usually has the patina solution boiling, so I would assume that takes care of the heating part. I’m limited in my space and facilities so have to watch what I decide to tackle. Anything too potent I use out on the balcony off my studio.

Are the patinas from Sculpt Nouveau more like paints? I’ll check them out. I remember reading in Charles Lewton-Brain’s Ganoksin article on patinas where he recommends using a few alternatives like paint (something about a Chevy green :smile:) so I may end up going in that direction.

Lots of testing ahead!

Thanks again.


#11

Hi, Betty,

There was a great discussion of patinas on another thread, but I didn’t want to hijack that to ask about drying in sawdust.

I do have the Japanese Patinas in e-book form and had just added the Contemporary Patination for bronze brass and copper to my wish list.

Have you tried any of the patinas in Eitoku Sugimori’s book?

And to everyone:

I just saw the forum suggestion that I answer multiple postings in one answer. My apologies for my ignorance on good forum-citizenship. I’ll reform the next time I answer.


#12

Trish,
Try this… Used for drying watch parts, but the same idea as what you are
looking for. Fairly fine. Shouldn’t need to keep a piece in there too long.
I submerge piece completely. if nothing sticks when I pull it out, it’s
dried. A few taps and sawdust usually comes right off.

  • Wendy

#13

John,

Thanks again for the info. I totally get about finding old railroad spikes.

If you go the RR spike/nitric acid route, do is away from houses/people/animals/etc. and use a pyrex container as it get HOT from the reaction. The “smoke” (vapes) is something to stay out of. I would NOT recommend doing any of this inside and especially on an upper story, ground only and outside.

The selenic acid (is that the same as selenium?) sounds familiar — is it the same stuff as is used in the old-style black and white photography? (Also something I loved once upon a time.)

Yes selenium.

As for evenly heating the pieces, the Hughes and Rowe book usually has the patina solution boiling, so I would assume that takes care of the heating part. I’m limited in my space and facilities so have to watch what I decide to tackle. Anything too potent I use out on the balcony off my studio.

For many patinas I don’t thing this would work, for some it will.

Are the patinas from Sculpt Nouveau more like paints? I’ll check them out. I remember reading in Charles Lewton-Brain’s Ganoksin article on patinas where he recommends using a few alternatives like paint (something about a Chevy green [:smile:] ) so I may end up going in that direction.

They have all sorts of colorations…. metal dyes are not that might be interesting in jewelry. They have paints but mostly to use on non metallic items. The paints have high metal content and once dried, can be patinated as though they were metal. There are demo videos on their site.

Lots of testing ahead!

Thanks again.

John


#14

See below…


#15

Hi, Janet,

Thank you, but I think I’m missing something. There’s nothing I can see after ‘See below…’


#16

My comments are written in blue within the text of your letter after each paragraph. Better to read on a computer than on a cellphone.


#17

My comments are written in blue after each paragraph within the text of your email letter . I had no idea it was going to the forum and not to you. I have resent it, asking Leah to forward it to you.

[I have no button to delete or edit my previous 2-sentence post, so I am writing this as a reply to it.]

Janet in Jerusalem


#18

Ah… That makes sense. I think the ‘email’ was from the forum’s software (it wasn’t from me directly) so that’s where the confusion came in (I’m guessing here).

I’ll look forward to reading your answer.

Thanks for taking the time to write it. I appreciate it.


#19

Hi, Janet,

I received your complete post today! Thank you for taking the time to answer.

Your response was exactly what I needed. :grinning: Very happy.

Thank you for the link, too. I ended up having to buy some from Amazon because the shipping was so high (shipping sawdust from Florida to California is pricier than I would have thought).


#20

I took a course many years ago and the instructor had me put my finished silver piece in sawdust which was in the barrel of a tumbler unit…he ran it for a few minutes…said it was to dry all places and to prevent finger marks from handling while piece was wet…