Natural Patina Jewelry
WHAT IS NATURAL PATINA? Copper takes on patina beautifully in the nature when it is exposed to the elements of rain and moisture. (just think of Statue of Liberty) This natural process can be accelerated by using all natural “exposing” methods, with the help of household ingredients, usually vinegar/ammonia and salt. This process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week or longer. Atmospheric conditions have an effect on this process – moisture in the air, temperature, etc. Sometimes it seems like it’s almost “magic”, some days patina grows wonderfully and on some other day it just won’t grow. It is a fascinating process to watch when it works and you can get always a unique result. The color of the patina varies depending on those atmospheric conditions and also the way it grows has a lot of variation.
The Patina Making Process
I start with cutting copper shapes out of a larger piece of copper sheet. (Depending on the thickness you would want to use either metal snips or a jeweler’s saw.) Copper gets shaped, sanded , buffed and cleaned carefully, holes are added with a drill or a manual hole maker. I then put the pieces into a “fumigation” container (a plastic container with lid works well) with ammonia or vinegar. If the pieces have holes it is easy to string them on a copper wire. Usually I also add salt, but it is not absolutely necessary for the patina growing. Close the lid and now the waiting begins!
How long do you wait? Well, that depends… like I mentioned before patina growing is not a guaranteed process. There are times when it just doesn’t grow enough for me to make it into a piece of jewelry. Other times it grows just like magic. There are times when you may want to redo the whole process – clean the pieces of copper and make a new fumigation bath. After the patina is how I like it, the pieces are rinsed and let dry and eventually clear coated. You will have a unique piece of handmade real natural patina jewelry. If you want to know more about the process see my Patina Tutorial.