I have so many people come to me with questions about what metal works under patinas and what doesn't, I thought it might be helpful to compile information and post sources I can refer them to for their own learning.
With authentic patinas (ie; not a paint but a reaction forced by heat and moisture) you need to know what metal you are trying to alter.
Metal alloys are numerous, complex and a lot of them do not suit my purposes for jewelry design and patina application.
Here is a list from Wikipedia;
But let me break down the most relevant info;
ferrous and non-ferrous.
Ferrous metal refers to iron; this rusts. Which is cool and artsy but I feel is unsafe to wear, although others have pointed out that there is no harm, unless under very specific circumstances.
(Steel is also ferrous metal and will rust under traditional acid based patinas.)
Non-ferrous is not iron.
Simple enough, right?
These are the 3 main, easily accessible, treatable and wearable metals to apply traditional patinas to;
Copper = Pure
Brass = Copper and Zinc
Bronze = Copper and Tin
But why do the traditional patina solutions work so well on some brass pieces and not so great on others?
Because many manufactures are trying to save money and include more zinc in their brass alloy than copper,which doesn't develop natural pigmentation like the sublime copper does and is a ferrous metal.
The dye oxides will work over any metal that can be heated to 200 degrees;
Dye oxide is a different solution altogether. Think of it like liver of sulfur with a dye colorant added.It changes your metals appearance through heat and moisture but can be removed through heavy sanding.
Pewter works under the dye oxides but it can melt easily so you must have good concentration as you apply your heat in the form of fire (craft embossing guns are good alternatives to butane and propane heat sources).
I personally prefer to not use the Universal patinas on metals other than copper, bronze or brass because they are very thick and coat the metal rather than bond to it like heating the 3 metal types named above.
But the manufacture states that the Universal patinas CAN be used over ANY metal.
There is a big to-do about nickel and I do not work with it so I can say I do not work with it.
Here is a short paragraph on nickel metal and toxicity;
To the customers asking if I sell Toxic and Lead Based items;
Perhaps you are thinking about snippets of things you have heard about mass produced re-fined metal components.
Please reference the article listed above to better inform yourself of what you should be on the look out for.
(Each of my listings state what type of metal is used, once you have a better understanding of metal and toxicity, you will see I work with metals that do not have any concern.)
Thank you for letting me go on about some of the more boring things to do with patina work.
If this has confused or overwhelmed you, there is always a cheaper, faster, easier way to add color to metal than to use authentic patinas. We can be sure there is always a big name company looking to profit off the latest artisan based trends that makes the result we want all that much easier to attain.
Much Love & Respect,