Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Forced Copper Patinas and Faux Stained Glass Leading

Because the holy water font really should be aged, and not be so shiny, I try my hand at giving the copper bowl an appropriate patina as if it was an old piece.

I should be so lucky if my holy water font comes out looking half this good
A search of the Internet found quite a number of methods, from using a propane torch to heat the metal to using some seemingly caustic chemicals that create a reaction. I opted for a simpler method, one that requires just two household ingredients: ammonia and table salt.

This method of creating a patina appears to be heavily favored in the vaping community. An outgrowth of the electronic cigarette industry, vaping is "smoking" a heated flavored liquid nicotine. Since it's not burning, but rather heating, it creates a vapor (hence the term) rather than smoke. It's purported to be healthier than actual smoking. And it's insane the amount of "smoke" these units, called mods, produce. It looks like an old Cheech & Chong movie.

But the devices, or mods, can often be boring designs. Though they're made of copper or brass, they're not very visually exciting, so owners create a more interesting design on their devices by forcing a patina. To do so, they suspend the devices above ammonia-soaked paper towels in a box for several hours, liberally sprinkling both the towels and the pieces with regular table salt. The patterns created are pretty interesting and I think it will provide a cool effect on my holy water font.

That is if they're really copper and brass. I suspect they're not and are only plated with a thin veneer of the reactive metals. I'm assuming some other metal underlies both coatings, so it may have an impact on how it turns out.

The second project I'm undertaking is creating the stained glass windows. I have two sheets of 1/8" clear plastic and I'll be creating a scene on it after which I'll use acrylic paints to color it in. However, I debated how best to do the lead outline. My initial thought was to use a permanent marker and call it a day -- but where's the fun in that?

I saw online someone used black glue sticks to create the lead, but my search locally for a source turned up only glitter sticks, not black so I guess they're only available online. Well, how many people really have a need for black glue sticks?

I did find an alternative though that I think may just work even better. Fabric paint. Dimensional fabric paint. After application and drying, it leaves a raised line which will give me the look that I'm going for. And because the applicator tip provides a very find line, I think this is just the thing I need. I think it's a convincing result, though perhaps I should have applied it after I painted the window, rather than before. I've got two windows to do, so I'll do one one way, and the other the other way.


  1. we had luck just using watered down paint in a spray bottle and misting layers of "patina". You have the advantage of real metals. Kind of curious to see how it turns out. Great job on the vlog!

    1. Thanks Mark. That's what I ultimately had to go with. I think because the metals weren't really copper or brass they didn't react to the forced patina technique. Old standby methods sometimes are best...and easiest!


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