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

1 comment:

Beth Ann said...

Be still my beating heart! I've been rolling this colouring brass thing around in my head and you have the info here! I just ran across your etsy store too! Needlessto say, I'm interested! and have Favorited! your shop!