Metal & Patinas

Did you know that salt and vinegar can be used as a jewelry soldering “pickle” to clean off residue? Did you also know that salt and vinegar creates a killer metal patina mixture? And did you know that you shouldn’t mix the two because one ruins the other? Ha! I don’t even care, I just mixed up a new batch of pickle when I was done because check it OUT.


OK, so some of the orange and all of the purple in that top photo were faked with paints and inks. But the blues and the rust – that’s real, and adding this layer of chemical reaction over artificial color gave me such a rush of satisfaction. Here’s how I did it a couple of weeks ago!

First, I dredged a big pile of shiny brass metal bits & bobs in my poor sad pickle pot (which needed serious cleaning after this!). I dragged it all out (wishing I had used a strainer or something… those tiny pieces were a nuisance) – and laid it out on a paper towel. Some of the pieces I spritzed with alcohol, having heard it can increase reactions. I then just…. walked away.


The next day, it looked like this:


Mostly blues with a few greens! All that nasty garish shine is gone, and that was REALLY what I was looking for.


But I’ll sure take those gorgeous teals while we’re at it. The colours deepened the longer they sat, of course. Not sure if you can really see what’s going on but these are the buckets of pieces I ended up with for my steampunk jewellery.


I had done a bit of metal colouring before this using patina paints and alcohol inks, and it was rather unsatisfactory – figuring what the hell, I can’t make them any worse, I dumped them all in too, and it made for a fantastic array of colours and textures. I’ll definitely be doing this again!



I was using a patina product on my clay and some other metal pieces; I actually think I might like the cheap-o version better!


On the larger, rougher pieces of course I’ll need a sealant; but for the tiny bits I’ll let them be. They’re pretty safe.

I do love it when something unexpectedly becomes beautiful!

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