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Patination 101


#1

Hi everyone,

first time for me to post here [by the way, I signed myself to
Orchid for the second time, this time 'cause I’m absolutely focused
on jewelry things, and I finally signed myself to a five years
artistic jewelry making and desing course, etcetera. I’m trying to
stop lurking…]

this is my question: while I’m waiting to do built a small lab in my
basement, I would like to do some experiment in copper and brass
patination, as for exemple is explained in Claire Sanford’s article
in McCreight “Metal Techniques” book: black on brass [ammonia +
copper carbonate] and sawdust patina [ammonia, salt, ammonium salt];
these elements are a bit “hazardous”, so I’m asking myself: it’s
possible to use them in patination of wearable jewelry? Are the
various patinas “stable”, once applied, or they tend to poison skin
and other things at contact, [damaging in the process relations with
my female friends]?

beside of that, there’s another thing I haven’t understood yet: is
patina something which can resist the wear/strain of wearing [say,
colored rings in a chain], or it wears away?

thanx for any attention,
davide, from italy


#2
beside of that, there's another thing I haven't understood yet: is
patina something which can resist the wear/strain of wearing [say,
colored rings in a chain], or it wears away?

Patination as I understand it (open to correction by a more learned
or experienced person) is a surface deep reaction to the metal, hence
fragile and not well suited for direct and continual exposure to
wear.

One way I was taught to protect a surface such as this is through
the application of a paste floor wax (reapply as necessary).

A snippet from a product site, of whose product I have used for this
procedure:

SC Johnson® Paste Wax deep cleans many surfaces; its original blend
of hard finish waxes produces a rich, satiny luster. SC Johnson®
Paste Wax provides lasting beauty and protection for all wood
surfaces, metal, leather, plastic, cork, and vinyl. It’s an excellent
product to help revitalize antique furniture and worn or damaged
wood. (http://www.floorcareproducts.com/wood-floor-wax)

Other option are clear finger nail polish, again to build a
protective coating. Some use this on copper that touches the skin so
as not to have the greening effect on the flesh.

Treating the patinae piece(s) as you would a stone is an option:
cutting and setting it; cold connection joining, such as rivets;
etc.

Hope this helps somewhat.

K. David Woolley
Fredericton, NB
Diversiform Metal Art & Jewellery


#3

Buon Giorno, Davide!

(that’s pretty much the extent of my Italian other than “ciao!” and
"grazie" and “no capisco”)

You ask a good (and logical) question. Perhaps the best way to
answer it is to ensure that you understand what the patination
process is doing.

Patination is the process of creating an oxidation layer in the
metal that changes the refraction of light hitting the metal. That
oxidation layer can form in many different ways and at many different
depths.

When you expose copper to the sawdust patina, you wait until the
oxides form to the level you wish, then wash the piece thoroughly in
soap and water. This removes any residual traces of the ammonia or
ammonium salts, but leaves the oxide layer to provide the color.

You can also do fume patinas, where the metal is in a sealed
environment (like a lidded jar or zip-loc bag) suspended over the
ammonia for a period of time. The fumes cause a layer of oxidation to
build very evenly over the surface of the metal. In this case, you
still wash the metal afterward, but there’s never been any contact
with the liquid ammonia.

Patinas can be delicate and can scratch or abrade. Many can be
sealed with lacquer (I’m really liking Rio’s “Midas” finish lacquer
for this currently) or a mixture of turpentine and beeswax. The
darker patinas, as well as the golden/chocolate colors work very well
this way. The iridescent patinas (on silver) don’t seal as well,
because they depend on the refraction of interference colors; I’m
working on researching some options for sealing them, but have
nothing definitive to report yet.

Your best bet when working with patinas, though, is to design around
the fact that you’re using them. Create recessed or protected areas
where they can be worn without abrading or contacting the skin (which
will darken them via skin oils and help them wear away and dull
quickly).

Hope this helps!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


#4
Are the various patinas "stable", once applied, or they tend to
poison skin and other things at contact, 

Of course they are stable, or they wouldn’t have put them in the
book.

You might also enjoy Tim’s book on Japanese Patainas. You can find it
at his website Brynmorgan Press, or on Ganoksin.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#5
SC Johnson(R) Paste Wax deep cleans many surfaces; its original
blend of hard finish waxes produces a rich, satiny luster. SC
Johnson(R) Paste Wax provides lasting beauty and protection for all
wood 

I don’t know a lot about patination - there’s a MOST excellent spiral
bound book called “Contemporary Patination” by Ronald D. Young ISBN
0-9603744-1-8. I’m sure it’s OOP, and probably quite rare, too, but
it’s a bible of patination, if you can find it. Johnson paste wax
probably comes in the same tin it came in from 1890. If there is one
wax in the world that people who use wax a lot swear by, it is that.
Just a plug from a happy user - I have a tin in the shop and one at
home, can’t beat it.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#6
I don't know a lot about patination - there's a MOST excellent
spiral bound book called "Contemporary Patination" by Ronald D.
Young ISBN 0-9603744-1-8. I'm sure it's OOP, and probably quite
rare, too, but it's a bible of patination, if you can find it. 

Here is his web site. He is working on a new edition the 5th or 6th.
I have his dvd’s and they are great. He also has all the kits for
the patina’s. Seems most people that have them and use them
according to the instructions are happy with them.

http://www.sculptnouveau.com

The only complaint that I have heard is that there is slight
deviations between his book/DVD’s and his in person classes. I told
somebody that what happens with old age LOL.

glen
been there done that !


#7

Thanx to all that answered me; I finally did some research, read
"Japanese Patinas" and some tutorials here and there on the web
[i.e., that in Jim Kelso site, jimkelso.com, is very useful], and
I’ve tried to squeeze all the small discrepancies toward a reasonable
experimentation schedule. I’m just waiting for the chemist’s shop to
send me chemicals, and I’m in the meantime collecting pots,
containers, dishes, brushes, things, etc. So, I’m ready to go. I’ll
put pictures on my site, as soon as I’ll start.

Finally, I found a 20 pages article on some-archaeologist’s
experimentation about shakudo-like patinated metals in ancient
Europe. It’s in english, and some data are indeed interesting. I can
pdf it, if someone will want to read it.

thanx again everyone
davide