Preserving Patina on Copper

I recently purchased the book, “Directory of Jewelry Finishes” by
Jinks McGrath, which is fabulous. I followed the procedure to obtain
a blue patina on copper (using ammonia and salt). How do you
recommend I preserve this wonderful color? Renaissance wax? Something
more durable (and perhaps glossy) would be preferred. I welcome all
suggestions, and I recommend trying this beautiful patina!


How do you recommend I preserve this wonderful color?

Try Simoniz paste auto wax. This is formulated for metal/auto
finishes, comes out glossy, and is extremely durable - practically
archival for items not subject to much use or touching, and
incredibly long wearing for pieces in service of some kind. Stay away
from lacquers, varnishes, etc. as these begin to peel at some
inconvenient time and cannot be reapplied unless you strip the rest
of of it completely back down to the surface.

Apply, let dry, and buff out with soft cloth.

Les Brown
L.F.Brown Goldwork
17 2nd St. East, Ste. 101
Kalispell, MT 59901

Hello…My name is Aimee Domash, from St. Louis, Missouri… (I’m
de-lurking) I’m pretty new to this board (2-3 months)…so take it
for what it’s worth. I LOVE the colors that copper turns…however I
have tried Renaissance wax, and different spray sealers and they all
seem to change the color slightly. I have not really found a good
answer to this dilemma. My advise…the colors seems to stay better
on earrings (other than heavily worn pieces, ex…like bracelets )
and if you do spray a sealer… go light (don’t put to much on or
there will be nasty film on your piece!) I think someone mentioned
something to try a few weeks ago on this board but I forgot what it
was…maybe they will chime in again…Good luck!


I have used the salt and ammonia procedure for getting a blue patina
on copper, and never had a problem with it changing color. It is a
matt finish which is what I wanted.

I also got a permanent verdigris finish quite by accident once, and
have used it ever since. I was doing some lead soldering on a copper
pipe (making a trellis for my garden), and some of the flux used with
the solder got on the copper, and turned this marvelous blue/green
finish. I then took a paint brush, and painted the entire trelliswith
the flux and to my delight it took. That trellis has been in my
garden, exposed to all sorts of weather, rain, snow, etc., and still
has that verdigris finish.

I put some on some copper that I was combining with enamels in a
large wall piece, and again, the color is true and has held up.

You can get the flux from any stained glass place—it is the one
stained glass artists use when soldering.

Having said that, I do think some research may be needed to find out
if it would be harmful to the skin if applied to a piece of copper to
be incorporated into jewelry—even after it has dried fully.



I’ve been doing the same sorts of things, combining the salt and
ammonia treatment with vinegar and sometimes mixing in borax flux
with heat on copper or bronze. I’ve gotten patinas that look like
they were painted by an Impressionist ! Very beautiful tones and
patterns of color.

Now then - I put a light coat of Renaissance wax on, followed by a
second coat. This seems to “fix” the patina. But the Renaissance wax
is not especially tough and has a matte finish. So, I follow the
technique that some sculpture conservators (this was at Brookgreen
Gardens in South Carolina, where I sit at the moment) taught me,
which is to finish off with Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax. This gives
you a very tough, durable coating that will take on a nice gloss if
polished with a soft cloth. If you want to go back to a matte finish,
simply put a light coat of Renaissance wax on over top and you’re
back to the matte finish. The two waxes are compatible.

Mind you, the important thing in order not to “mess up” the patina
(since it is often powdery and fragile) is to use a soft quality
brush. I use a Kolinsky red sable watercolor brush (got plenty since
I’m a watercolorist too) which works just fine.

With cold patinas being of a fragile nature, before waxing Ron Young
and other recommend that you spray a matt varnish on it and let rest
for up to a week to give the patina, varnish and copper to bond
together. Then the bite to the surface and varnish become tight to
be able to stand up to waxing. Ron Youngs videos on Hot and cold
patinas for bronze,brass and copper. He also has a book or books on
it. Including one on steel patinas. Here is a web based video rental. have used them and service is first rate.

been there, done that !

Mind you, the important thing in order not to "mess up" the patina
(since it is often powdery and fragile) is to use a soft quality

On copper or brass, verdigris-type patinas-- if you let the patina
grow slowly over time by enclosing the piece with (not in) a dish of
ammonia, etc, the patina will be so durable that you can buff over
it without damage. Patinas that happen quickly seem to come off the
same way. It may take a day or two with the more passive method, but
the results are worth it. If you want a pattern, rather than a solid
color, soak wood chips or sawdust in the patina, in a plasic bag,
and bury your piece in it for a day or two. The bigger the wood
chips (think gerbil litter) the bigger the pattern. Try it, it’s