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Sealing Patina Colors


I have been using Liver of Sulphur on my silver pieces and am having
a really hard time getting the color to stay after sealing it. I
have used Renaissance Wax, Workable Fixative, and Nikolas Lacquer
with the same result…dulled and muted colors. I have seen online
and in shops many pieces that keep the vibrancy of the colors but I
cannot get it to work!! Any advice that could be offered would be
greatly appreciated! Below is a list of what I am currently doing:

  1. Tumble & Polish the piece
  2. Clean with soap and water
  3. Dip the piece in warm water to heat the metal
  4. Dip the piece in warm water with liver of sulphur mixed in
    (approx. 2 cups of water and a very small piece of liver of
  5. Rinse the piece in cold water
  6. Repeat the process until the color desired is achieved
  7. At this point I have patted the pieces dry and have waited from 1
    minute to 4 hours to seal the colors in, all with the same boring

Thanks in advance for your help!

Hi Melissa,

I only use patina every now and then, but I 've never been
disappointed with it.

Here is what I usually do:

I never polish completly my work before patination.

Sometimes I even reanneal and pickle it at this stage, so I have a
nice white greasefree paper-like surface for the patina.

Once I dipped the piece in liver of sulphur and rinse it, I burnish
the patina into the metal in the barrel (with steel shots
demineralized water and lubricant).

(It is good to clean the shots and barrel afterward.) Then I seal the
colour with homemade beeswax-turpentine paste.

Juliette Arda
Aix en Provence, France

Hi Melissa,

I have a question for you before anything else, are you happy with
the darkness of the patina before you seal it? If not, you might not
be leaving it in long enough. If you are happy with the patina, I
would recommend “Butcher’s wax”. Butcher’s is the name of the
product. The clerk was rather bewildered, and I couldn’t find it at
the local hardware store so I ended up ordering it online. and you want to
order the white wax.

Hope it works for you!

It sounds as though the colors you are trying to preserve are the
bright, peacock colors you can get with LOS. I aven’t found any way
to do this, and in a workshop with Judy Hoch, who gets wonderful,
bright patinas, she shared that she has never found a coating or wax
that perseves the colors. She just leaves them without a sealant, and
discloses that colors are not permanent, but change over time.

Coatings apparently change the refraction of light on the surface of
the piece, altering the colors percieved. I have heard conversation
of this sort before, and have never heard anything different - you
either dull the colors, or leave it uncoated.

Lisa Weber


I would like to know what level of patina you are trying to preserve
on your pieces. Are you trying to keep them a dark grey or are you
trying to preserve some of the wonderful blues, golden browns and
magentas you get at various stages? If you check the archives, you
will see that I asked your very same question a while back. I got a
good response to my query about what other people use to set their
patina colors without dulling them and I tried many of the
suggestions, Renaissance Wax, Nikolas Lacquer, and other sprays,
etc, but I too found none of them worked as a fixative without
totally dulling the beautiful colors I spent time and effort trying
to achieve. I do continue to spray my patinaed pieces and
unfortunately, am resigned to live with the dulling because I have
seen pieces that were not sprayed - customers wearing them etc, and
they look far worse - the patina just darkens and becomes very dull
grey/brown and unattractive. I was hoping someone would come up with
a terrific answer too and I am sorry I don’t have one for you. Here’s


Thanks to everyone who has replied to me so far! The colors that I am
trying to seal are those beautiful blues and golds. I had originally
purchased a kit called Rainbow Patina Kit and the woman who created
the kit said that it is possible to seal in the colors and she showed
examples on a video of pieces that were sealed. Unfortunately, I have
not had the same results and have so far tried Renaissance Wax,
Workable Fixative, and Nikolas Lacquer. Yesterday I ordered Butchers
Wax so I will give that a try and a couple days ago I ordered Krylon
Clear Spray at the suggestion of the woman who created the video and
kit so I will let you know if it works when it arrives!

Thanks again to everyone who has replied :slight_smile:


Hello,I do not know if this will help, but here is my experience… I
quit using liver of sulfur because there is a woman with chemical
sensitivities at my studio and opted for oxidizing my pieces with my
torch. The effect is similar; I also have a little jar of stuff that
just turns pieces black. I find it looks better when the piece has
been polished- maybe I am burning off compound or something of that
nature. I then coat with Tres wax (bowling alley wax that you find
in the flooring section of hardware stores). Apply a filmy coat and
rub with a soft cloth to a vibrant shine. Wax does periodically need
to be reapplied, but can usually be brought back to life with a soft
cloth and elbow grease.

I do not like the wax on patinas created with ammonia and salts, such
as the vert-de-gris. I found that the wax actually pulls off some of
the patina, so if I have to seal, I use a spray urethane or
polyurethane. I like doing many light coats, to avoid pooling or

Melissa Stenstrom

This is sort of a long shot, but it works on steel, so it might work
for other metals? A welding instructor of mine recommended using
clear engine coat laquer to preserve blues and gold on torched
steel. I only used it on two small pieces, and it worked
terrifically…actually enhanced the color a little. At $5 a can,
it’s probably worth a try? Good luck!

Barbara Louise Bowling

I use patina in many of my jewelry pieces. I tried a dozen different
sealants. Most dulled or backed the color down to a previous color (I
use the salt/ammonia additive). The two sprays which leave my patina
colors with irridescence and good color play, very nearly what they
were before spraying, are StayBrite brass lacquer from Woodworkers
Supply and Nikolas #2105. I buy both on-line. Before spraying, I
leave the patina items to sit overnight.

Donna in VA


I have tried both of these sprays and you are right - they don’t dull
the patina quite as much as some of the other alternatives. Does
leaving the pieces overnite before spraying make a difference?


I have tried both of these sprays and you are right - they don't
dull the patina quite as much as some of the other alternatives.
Does leaving the pieces overnite before spraying make a difference? 

It makes a big difference. If it’s humid and you spray, it gets
dulled. Even though you let it air dry, it can still have humidity
on the surface if you spray right away. When I was in jewelry class,
the instructor always said to leave it overnight before even handling
again. I have compared spraying one earring and not the other and I
see very little to no difference with these two sprays between the
sprayed earring and the non-sprayed one. I even get patches of
irridescence. I’m careful not to touch the patina surface, I handle
with latex gloves doing the cold water rinse and then shake off the
water, put the pieces down on a paper towel and leave them until the
next morning. I’ve even run the hair dryer over them to drive off
water spots.

Ok, time to stick my nose in here! It may be the delivery method that
is the biggest problem. If you want to produce a thin sealant then
you need more then a clunky spray can. You need an air brush. There
are many on the market and can be very cheap. Find and purchase the
best, clearest whatever finishing product you like. Cut it with
thinner until it is water thin. Now use an airbrush to apply a thin
coat. Maybe two coats. You will need a hood to draw off the fumes. Be
careful, having a torch around this mist might not be a good idea.

Bill, Deborah & Michele
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc
928-634-3434, 800-876-3434, 928-634-6734fx

I’ve been reading with interest the discussions on preserving the
patina created with liver of sulfur, but I think they all referred to
silver. Now I’m wondering if anyone has had luck preserving the
colorful patina you can get on copper with just the torch. I was
asked to do a workshop recently about copper, enameled, form folded,
etc. You can get such beautiful colors on the copper sometimes, but
the fuschia’s and blues, particularly, disappear when you apply
Renaissance wax. Does anyone know if you can preserve these patinas
on copper? (you can see some of my copper pieces from the workshop on
my site.)

Linda Gebert

I have always used nitrocellulose lacquer. I have never tried it on
the heat generated colors but on chemical patinas on copper. I first
use a 50% thinned solution to completely penetrate the patina then a
full strength coat. NiLaq is not easy to come by these days; I get
mine from luthier supply houses such as Steward MacDonald For really delicate colors, someone already
mentioned using an air brush.

With regard to the thread on sealing patinas on silver, I wonder if
it would help to plate the piece with copper (using pickle solution
or whatever) and then re-finish the exposed part, leaving the copper
in the recessed parts. Then patina. Would the patina stay longer on
the recessed parts because of the copper? ALso more possilbilities
for the patina color due to the copper.

Todd Welti
Living Color Opal and Intarsia