How to patina your copper jewellery!
So you've created your wire wrapped copper masterpiece but something isn't quite right. Its looking beautiful and your wrapping is awesome, but there's no depth to the wire work. Bring on the Patina!
There are many ways to add a patina to copper but in this post i'm going to show you how to use Liver of Sulphur. Liver of sulphur is my patina of choice as i think it gives a consistent look time and time again.
Start by cleaning your piece. I do this with an old soft toothbrush and fairy liquid (Dish washing soap) Its best to clean the piece as this will enable the liver of sulphur to work its magic and give you a nice even finish.
Liver of sulphur comes in liquid form, as well as solid chunks. I've used both and find them equally as good as each other.
You will need:
A old plastic container, big enough to fit your piece in. ( i use a Chinese takeaway container)
Liver of sulphur
A grabber for retrieving your piece from the boiling water (I use anything i have on hand... A fork/wooden spoon/my fingers! but you can get plastic tweezers which are perfect for the job!)
0000 Superfine steel wool
Dish washing soap
Old tea towel
First step, boil the kettle.
When the kettle has boiled, put enough water in your container to cover the piece you are adding patina to. Add a drop of liver of sulphur ( or a little piece if its soild.)
The water will turn a yellowy brown depending on the amount of Liver of sulphur you added. Oh and it stinks!!!
I must admit, i do this in my kitchen but ( i think my sense of smell has adjusted to it over the years because i hardly notice it now.) you might want to do it outside.
Carefully place your piece in the solution.
The finished patina will depend on how long you leave the piece in the solution. It works fast, so i recommend you dip it for a second or two before removing the piece to check it. If you want it darker, dip it again, and keep dipping until you are happy with the colour.
I like to leave mine in for a good few seconds, turning the copper black. Don't leave it in too long though, as the patina will flake off and you wont get a nice even finish.
Rinse the piece under cold water.
Dry with an old cloth. I have an old tea towel set aside especially for this job, as its super messy and it will leave black marks on anything that it touches.
Wearing your protective gloves, use the steel wool to remove the patina from the high spots. BEWARE!!! This stuff is exactly what it says on the tin. Wool created from superfine threads of steel and it gets everywhere. If you don't use protective gloves it will get into your fingers and ruin your nails.
Take care with it and whatever you do, do not do this sitting on your nice cream sofa!!!
Take care to get into any tight spots and don't be afraid to give the piece a good scrub. You will see the difference immediately as this really helps to highlight and enhance the details of a wire wrapped piece.
When you are happy with the amount of bare copper showing through your wire wrapped piece, rinse it under the tap and get the toothbrush and dish soap on it again.
I have a 5 year old at home so have a constant supply of old toothbrushes, but if your buying one, i would go for either a super soft adults brush or a children's one.
Dry the piece thoroughly with your old towel, then polish it, with either a silver/copper polishing cloth or polishing pad.
I love the Ultra-Polish Pads, and this is what i supply in my wire wrapped jewellery tutorial kits. You can buy them here:
The chain can be a little more tricky to polish, so i tend to do it resting on my work bench.
Depending on personal taste, some people like to add a protective layer over the patina which helps to preserve the finish and prevent tarnish. There are a few different methods of doing this, today i'll show you how to apply Renaissance wax.
When you are happy with your final polish, take a soft, lint free rag and add a tiny bit of wax to it.
Less is most definitely more when you are applying renaissance wax to wire wrapped jewellery, as too much will get caught up in the weaving. Apply a thin coat of the wax all over the piece.
Once you have applied the wax, the piece will look a little dull. Using a separate soft lint free cloth, gently buff the piece to bring up a shine on the bare copper.
If you have added too much wax to your weave you will need a soft clean dry toothbrush to work the wax in (or out) of the weaving. Get right in there to disperse any remaining wax.
Apply a second coat of the wax all over the piece. Buff to a lovely shine with a separate rag and this will seal and finish your lovely patina.
Here is the finished piece. I think you will agree that the difference between the bare copper and copper with a patina is incredible! I love the look and very rarely use bare copper for a finished piece. The wax is durable and can be buffed to a lovely shine. Protecting the patina, as well as giving the piece an invisible layer of protection between the copper and your skin.
That's all for now, i hope you have enjoyed the tutorial! I love to see your finished pieces so why not upload a picture to my Facebook page!!
Till next time, happy weaving!!