Friday, October 30, 2009

How to oxidize RAW BRASS using something EVERYONE has in their own kitchen!

I had plans last night to breeze through this tutorial almost feeling embarrassed about how easy this was but I decided to follow my own steps with some actual raw brass this morning to see where it lead me! The results were really quite amazing. Read my directions and then look at the pictures for the results! Even though I was so tempted to substitute my “perfect ones” for the “after” pictures I decided to show you exactly how mine turned out today! I really learned a lot and it was FUN!

I wrote the tutorial last night and my notes after doing it myself this morning, will look like this....********SIDE NOTE********

OK here we go!

I’ve tried EVERYTHING to oxidize my raw brass to give it that captivating vintage patina and everything I tried was toxic, didn’t perform very well, was too expensive or was just too time consuming.

One day I was in my kitchen trying for the million-th time to think of something that would work and I thought…I wonder what would happen if I “burned them”. I think I’d seen somewhere that you could use a blow torch (you know that blow torch that you have laying around….) to make your brass dark.

So since my blow torch was in the shop, I decided to put it in my oven on its highest heat (500 degrees for mine) and give that a try and guess what? It worked!

Here’s what I’ve found works the best. LIGHTLY buff the pieces with fine steel wool and drop them into some water with about 1 Tablespoon of salt in it. This is just to remove the surface dirt and oils. Rinse them WELL in warm water and let them dry. Then just lay each piece, face up, on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil.

Here's what they look like before you start!

Then put them in the oven and “bake” them for between 15 minutes and 1 hour. There really is no rhyme or reason why it takes 15 minutes some days and 1 hour other days but just check them every few minutes and pull them out when you’re happy with the color. **********SIDE NOTE: as they begin to turn you might have to check them every few SECONDS********** You do have to watch them carefully because when they start to turn dark it goes pretty quickly. I usually do it when I’m in the kitchen doing something else anyway, so that I don’t forget them.

When they’ve reached the desired color just pull them out and plunge them into cold water to stop the process…careful they are HOT! ********SIDE NOTE: I DID NOT put the large blue heart in cold water immediately when it came out of the oven and even though the blue color was just starting to appear it turned that GORGEOUS blue right before my very eyes! **********
Here's what mine looked like right after they came out of the oven and had cooled...I KNOW the large heart is not there but that will be a little later!

See how different they all look? In my mind the little "love bird" connector and the dragonfly turned out the best but that's just me. I don't think the others turned out that great but I did promise I would show you how they REALLY turned out! Don't worry though....they aren't done yet!

Here's what they looked like after I buffed them a bit with steel wool. You can do it as little or as much as you like, depending on how "antique" you want your brass to look! (don't worry....the large ornate hearts are STILL TO COME!)

Sometimes they turn almost purple, which I love and one time they turned a beautiful turquoise color. I haven’t been able to reproduce that since (until this morning!) but it’s fun to see which way the heat makes them go each time. Sometimes there are places on the brass that are darker than others or little dots of color which looks GREAT! Brass doesn’t naturally oxidize perfectly anyway so this gives it an authentic appearance!********SIDE NOTE: The other day I forgot to clean them OR put them in salt water and then left them in for way too long BUT they were fine. I don’t think they would have turned out very well IF I had cleaned them SO you’ll need to experiment*********

If they get too dark or turn a weird color (which they have for me!) all you have to do is dip them in tarn-x and they turn BRIGHT gold again and you can repeat the process. Make sure you wash them well after you use the tarn-x. **********SIDE NOTE: I found this morning that the ones I had dipped into tarn-x and tried to “re-bake” didn’t oxidize very well SO try and get it right the first time. If you don’t though….it just takes a little longer and you might end up with a color that wasn’t what you intended BUT that’s all part of the process!*****************

OK NOW for those hearts! Remember what it looked like before I started?

I decided just for fun to do three and look how they turned out....DRUM ROLL PLEASE~

Can you belive the variations? I couldn't! I've never seen one turn blue like that but I rather like it. It's a little too instense for me but I can see how it could look smashing!

NOW look at them after I buffed them a little bit with steel wool!

This last picture is of the intense blue heart which I buffed quite a bit and would be how I would like it and would use it!


Well that's all for today! Believe it or not I have a lot more to say BUT I think I'll save that until tomorrow! I have some great sites for you that sell raw brass and some tips and hints for your jewelry making experience!

GOOD LUCK and please feel free to ask questions or make comments! I would love to hear what you think and I would also LOVE to put you on my mailing list for future offers, tutorials, ideas and give-aways.

Just leave a comment for me after this post...BE SURE TO INCLUDE your email address and I will add you to my mailing list! (your name and email will NEVER be shared with anyone else!)

Faithfully yours,
Violette Noble

Noble Studios Ltd.


Crystal said...

Oh my gosh the purple one was amazing ~ especially after you buffed it down.
What a generous post this is, sharing your techniques! I'm running around my studio looking to see if I can find some brass to bake!
Thanks Ms. Noble!

Noble Studios Ltd. said...

Well Crystal...I am soooo glad you enjoyed it! Thank you also for leaving a comment...I really appreciate it! Violette

inventivesoul said...

I never thought to bake them in the oven!

~*Very nice results!*~

Thank you for sharing the tips!!!

Noble Studios Ltd. said...

Well you are so welcome!

Even though I'd used that technique for a year or two even I was surprised by the varied results!

Thank you for taking the time to leave me such a nice comment!

Love Violette

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the brass heart?

elvestreasurebox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elvestreasurebox said...

thank you violette for sharing your secrets...i was trying sometthing yesterday in order to obtain the purple and truquoise color ...
ispired by your method ..
i first make a piece with brass and silver ,brased with a blow torch ,then leave it in an acidic solution to clean it ,then brush it with a brass metal thin brush to remove al the dust and dirty black layer that covers the whole piece...
then the piece is ready to be baked according to your recepie ,except that i wash it with water and a generous amount of baking soda and wrap it dripping wet into aluminium foil(leaving as much water inside as possible and sometimes add more)
this provide the purple and turquoise color after about 15 minutes....
another thing i haven t tried yet witch i think could work even better would be to steam the piece once wrapped in the seems that the presence of water and the heat accelerate the proces...
anyway we ll see what happens.just wanted to share this with you...thank s again!!xxx