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By Minnie Whitley


A protective green pigment is formed on metals like bronze, brass or copper over time. This verdigris patina that forms after years of weathering is very different from the original gleaming copper color. Such a patina can be created today by using products that speed up the natural process. A wide range of such products are available from many local and online stores.

One of the methods used in Medieval times to hasten the process involved burying wooden blocks with copper strips attached in dung for some time. Today, the burying technique is still used. However, nowadays objects are buried in absorbent materials like kitty litter or sawdust once they have been moistened with chemicals. Lovely textures and colors can be created in this way.

There were many other methods used in the past to hasten the oxidation process. Some involved placing copper plates in clay pots filled with distilled wine. Another method was to heat vinegar and hang the copper plates over the pot. The green crust formed was used by artists as pigment. All these processes still involved having to wait some time for a result.

Today one does not have to go to such extremes. A beautiful aged finish can be achieved fairly easily and without taking much time by using one of the many products available. A finish like this involves a chemical reaction and results can vary according to factors such as the techniques used and conditions in which the chemical is applied. The uniqueness of the end product is one of the most appealing factors.

Applying these products is not difficult but some experimentation may be required to produce the result you are looking for. Some of the factors affecting the results are the chemicals used and the number of layers applied. The type of metal used also affects the color produced. A bluish green is common with copper and a bluish black with bronze.

Some products are applied to the metal at room temperature. These products are usually opaque and are either sprayed on or painted on with a brush. It is best to pour a small amount into a disposable container for application, pouring in more as required. Applying too much can spoil the effect, creating chalky areas that flake off.

Products that need heat for application are often transparent. As heat is used the metal pores are opened, allowing the chemical to bond more tightly to the surface. More care needs to be taken, however, when working with hot metal and flammable chemicals. Gloves should be used as well as protective glasses. Ventilation is important when using any chemicals as fumes may be toxic.

The popularity of this type of finish with designers, landscapers and homeowners means that many such products are available today from numerous outlets, including online stores. These products allow for a touch of rustic charm to be added to any object without having to wait for years. Countless different objects such as pots, statues, screens, doors and even jewelry can be given interesting textures and colors, adding to their allure.




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