Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Possibly a repost? Age hardening copper

Hello there experienced people,

I thought I posted this earlier but it looks like it Ultimately didn’t post.

(Of course, it may have, and in which case I apologize)

I have a piece of heavily pierced 18g copper which I need to harden without mechanical means.

I also need to apply a patina with liver of sulfur.

Would I patinate or harden first?


Hi Janine,.

What is your hardening plan?


Hi Don,

Well my initial idea was to pop that sucker in my hot-as-it-can-go home oven and leave it there for a while… I have since read that only Alloys can be age hardened. So I guess I can set her up between my bench block and my bench and hammer away… Good thing it’s flat.
For the future reference though, could you advise on the order of events? Would one age harden and THEN add a finishing polish/patina, or maybe it doesn’t matter?

Thanks so much for responding, and please stay home <3

Janine in New orleans

Good Morning,

I have been doing metal work for a good time. Steel, Silver, Gold, Copper, Brass, and maybe Tin. They all work a little different. Some you can patinate at the start of the process and some you can’t. It is best to know the end result that you wish to help figure out the process in-between.

My son Greg is really working hard at copper and finds a few patinas that look great but won’t stand up to polishing. All that work disappears on the wheel.

Also hardening copper is simple. You bash it with a hammer. Nothing else in my experience hardens copper. But I have not spent a lot of time experimenting either. There may be and probably are copper and copper like alloys that harden with heat but I am unaware of them. Brother Rob has been at this longer than I by a good bit and he may have better info for you. Check what Tim McCreight has to say in his metal smithing books. Or watch what happens in this thread. It’s a good question you are asking.


1 Like

From my experience with copper, if you heat patina it, you can hammer it a lot and it will make the patina more interesting. I would experiment with some scrap copper. There are so many beautiful patinas you get from heat. One teacher recommended sprinkling dry cat food on a piece of copper and heat it. Colorful rings happen. With liver of sulfur, then hammer and patina last…

1 Like

Having made several copper pieces large and small, I hammer to harden then patinate as the piece is finished except for that. If you want to polish, do so before patination. There are several excellent pieces with various patina options. They are at my studio and until I get down there, I can’t reference them. Maybe Monday. I work alone, so no Covid problem.

1 Like

Crazy…dry cat food…

Yes and a torch. Fun to play with. Mary Hettmansperger found this out and gave a talk once on copper patinas. She has published some fun books.

I once made a neck piece consisting of copper leaf shapes.
The idea was to create Autumn tones.
From memory I polished the pieces, heated them to very high heat and quenched in ether cold or very hot to boiling water. Cold gave me a pinky red colour and hot was much more purple to magenta in tone. Both were good strong colours.
I then work hardened them with lots of energetic hammering with a small ball pein hammer.
This serves to create lots of pretty facets and also seems to bond the patina to the metal.
It was a commission pice so I have not heard back from the customer but had the colours faded I would have.

1 Like

That sounds like a really cool technique.
I would like to try that one day. Thanks for sharing, Willie.

This is a flat heavily pierced 18g copper.

Two identical actually.

Earrings sawn in the natural pattern of monarch wings.
They will remain open (backless) as per the customer’s request, but normally I solder a thin piece of brass as a backplate and it gives a great contrast after patina and the thin brass adds some structural integrity ( those earrings are 24g and require the brass to add rigidity) but these are sawn, will not get heated again, and wouldn’t benefit from added texture of hammering of any sort. So I will smash them between the bench block (steel) and, here’s the question-

Wood or leather under the earring when I try to harden with steel bench block?

Thanks so much you guys.
(I love this site​:two_hearts::sparkles::two_hearts:)