Friday, December 26, 2008

Dye on Metal - New Favorite Technique
New favorite thing - Adirondack Alcohol Inks by Tim Holtz - available through Ranger Ink (.com) Or if you want to get hold of them really cheap they are at Michael's craft stores and you can use a 40% off coupon on them, making them $2 a bottle (3 bottles to a pack).
These inks are fabulous on brass - they act like a stain, leaving the luster of the metal behind. Just drop a single drop or two on your clean metal and instant color wash. A bottle could last forever this way! Works well on plated and raw metals. Permanent, but if you want you can still seal it over with Krylon triple thick clear coat to give it extra protection and make the colors really glow.
Give it a try - the color range is fabulous from bright and bold to dusky jewel tones and a natural palate too. You can use more than one color per piece and blend them together like on the moth….bet you can see why it is a new favorite!

A couple of tips - wear gloves to avoid coloring your fingers and have a couple of cotton swabs on hand to dab off excess and spread the ink around on larger pieces. Oh and these pieces are available at our Etsy shop - just click the link at the bottom of the page - they are in the raw brass section. Thank you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Aging Raw brass

At our shop we get lots of questions on how to age brass. Everyone has a pile of raw brass sitting on their desk right? It was too pretty to pass up....but now what do you do with it? There are so many options. Here are a few:

First the difficult way - I say that because to me, dealing with chemicals is at the top of my hate to do list. But a lot of designers have success with these methods so here is a great link to a reproduction website on how to chemically age brass: Architectural Classics And follow this link if you really want to get your science. They have formulas to get virtually any color you can think of - even purple - Science Company

Now on to the easier methods - First start with clean brass. Raw brass is coated with machine oil to help it keep from tarnishing - you have to get rid of this coating to start the aging process. If you were to just wash and sit your brass on the shelf, within a few weeks it would be a nice deep honey color all on it's own.

But for quicker results you can heat your brass in a 400 degree oven for 10-30 minutes. Watch it closely and try one piece first to check the coloring. I usually get a nice deep orange doing this method. You can also use a heat gun (very carefully) and achieve a rainbow affect on the piece if it has a high enough copper content. Seal the brass to stop further coloring with a clear glaze for metal (Krylon has a matte, gloss and satin finish that are great for this - plus they are cheap and available at almost any hardware, variety store)

That is something I should mention - every batch of brass you come across will have a varied metal content - which means it will age to a slightly different color! The only way to get a consistent color on your brass is to paint it. Which is the funnest, easiest and quickest way to get an aged look on your brass.

Option 1 - use a Krylon spray glaze for a true antique look - clean the brass and spray both sides evenly, drying in between. One good coat is all that is needed and it makes for a fabulous finish - because it is a glaze it allows light to play thoguh it, giving you a nice depth of color.

Option 2 - Spray with a Krylon color like black, winter white or even sage green. Give the piece a solid look that also seals and protects. You can layer colors on in addition to this with a sea sponge to get all sorts of affects.

Option 3 - spray like option 2 but then take some fine steel wool and buff the pieces to reveal some of the brass again - instant antique - Seal with a clear spray when you get the look you want.
(Top Left: Black Glaze; TR: Honey Glaze; BL White sprayed and wiped off; BR is baked)

Final option - and this one is tons of fun - sorry no picture yet, I just experimented with it last night - Ranger Inks - you know, those great distressing inks that stampers use - they are perfect on brass. They are color fast and permanent. Plus they come in every color imaginable and produce wonderful antique look washes on your metal.

Just clean your brass, dry it and then drop a single drop of the ink on the piece - it will spread out quickly and dries in about a minute. You can layer different colors and watch them bump into each other and create fabulous color ways.

So be off with you - experiment and be happy - and send pictures of your beautiful brass!

Need some raw brass to experiment with? Stop by Winter Rose Designs

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Gemstones make any jewelry design more dazzling, more interesting and definitely easier to sell - they make your designs unique. But the price tag that goes with them often keeps us designers from using their beautiful little bead bodies in our creations.

With that in mind I have opened a new line in our shop specifically for designers - a selection of Designer Gemstones at reasonable prices. This will allow many new designers to add semi-precious stones to their design table.

Follow the link at the bottom of the post or page to our Etsy shop - Winter Rose Designs and click the gemstone tab to see all our newest goodies. Here is a picture to tempt you - Fancy Jasper:

Winter Rose Designs - supplies for jewelry & altered art
Winter Rose Cameos - handmade charms and jewelry

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Please leave a comment on what you would most like to re-design into a fabulous piece of altered artwork.

Me, I have always wanted to alter a piano. Yep, an old upright, dark oak piano. My sister is a concert pianist and while I was also sat in front of a piano for years to practice, I had other ideas as to what a piano would be good for.

I see scrollwork in walnut ink and winged fairies in shades of fall splendor. There are tiny arched doorways tucked around the corner and ivy trailing thick tree trunks. Hundreds of tiny brass leaves would be inked and strung to fall off one side….

Turning a piano into a piece of ethereal art seems appropriate. Music opens the world to possibility and imagination. It is only appropriate that such a portal between reality and fantasy should be a work of altered art.

This gets to the heart of what altered art is - the desire to create something meaningful to the artist from the beautiful pieces of their life. I grew up with a piano as the center of our home, so toss in a lifelong love of Celtic music, a few tubes of oil paints and some pieces of old brass….and you have my dream project, twining the lovely bits of my life into a creation of meaning and beauty.

So what would you alter?

Winter Rose Designs - supplies for jewelry & altered art
Winter Rose Cameos - handmade charms and jewelry
“Alter this!”

As a once upon a time seamstress, I heard this phrase often. You might think sewing gals and guys (my father was the one to pass this skill on to me) have a rather straight forward view of this phrase, but that is simply not the case. Like my grandmother before me, I am interested in combining my passion for textiles with my love of paint, metal, glass and everything old and lovingly used.

My grandmother taught me to take alteration a step further. Yes, she would alter clothing to fit a different child or whip up a hem for you, but her joy came from altering fabric and repurposing anything and everything old into something new and treasured. You could recount the lives of generations in the objects she created for her grandchildren.

I often give in to my inner desires and take my old aluminum brownie pan around my workshop, gathering bits and pieces of textiles, charms, beads, old toys and bits of wood. I set them out in front of me and all sorts of wild ideas run through my mind, my fingers practically dancing at the thought of combining all my treasures into a single piece.

Over the years, I have learned by trial and error - always being interested in a technique that was not yet popular enough to have a book written on it! My goal for this blog is to offer bits of inspiration (history minor) and information (currently a teacher and author) in a way that will excite you enough to try alteration in your own crafting pursuits.

For all you altered artists out there please stop by my etsy shop Winter Rose Designs and look over our supplies. We also have a collection of altered charms and jewelry here at Winter Rose Cameos

Have a wonderful week.