Playing with Patinas

I love figuring out ways to take a simple piece of metal jewelry and change it up to something fun and fabulous! Applying patinas to metal are a great way to do that. So what are patinas? They’re are a naturally occurring or chemically enhanced way of changing the surface of metal, creating color and/or texture.

Brass cuff bracelet with patina

There are lots of patinas available. There are chemical agents that will change the surface of metal to a variety of colors, or you could just leave something outside in the natural elements and let Mother Nature do the work.

Metal patina techniques
Take my "Metal Patinas" workshop at Bead Fest in April 2015.

I like to use basic hardware or craft store products in ways you might not have thought of, and sometimes I discover new techniques by accident. For example, one day I was prepping one of the brass cuff blanks I use to patina. I used Dawn dish soap and a scrubby under running water to get the shiny oil off the surface (otherwise, nothing will adhere). I then dunked it into some basic oxidizing agent to get a nice blue color going.

Next, I pulled out an old piece of door screening to use as a rack where the cuffs could dry without sitting in the chemical. I put a tin underneath to catch the drippings and left the studio for the night.

The following morning I found a big surprise. The metal in the screening had reacted with the cuff and the oxidizing agent, and had started a beautiful orange rust to form along the edges of the cuff and up the sides!

I loved the effect, and reapplied the oxidizing agent to let the magic continue. Mistake? I say serendipity. I now use this process all the time.

Come to my workshop at Bead Fest Spring 2015 (Oaks, PA) and leave this class with a stunning brass cuff wrapped around your wrist. Join me and explore the possibilities and unique results you can get with simple patinas. Start with a blank brass cuff and have lots of fun watching the patina process happen right before your eyes. Color possibilities span from brilliant turquoise, to burnt umber and everything in between. Add further surface color and embellishments using a variety of materials and techniques. See you there! ~Allison Lee


Art to Wear, Blog, Mixed-Media Jewelry


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