Potato Chip Patina on Brass and Copper (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

Potato Chip Patina on Brass and Copper - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Potato Chip Patina on Brass and Copper – Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now we’re going to put an easy potato chip patina finish on the Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants we made in Part 1 of this tutorial.

Potato Chip Patina on Brass and Copper - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Brass leaf pendant with potato chip patina by Rena Klingenberg

You may wind up with a sort of camouflage pattern on your metal, like this one:

Potato Chip Patina on Copper - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Copper leaf pendant with potato chip patina by Rena Klingenberg

Like most homemade patina recipes, your results with this method may be a surprise.

Although it’s likely to yield green, blue, teal, or turquoise colors, you may also end up with brown, rust, gold – or some other color.

All sorts of factors can affect how the patina interacts with your metal, and you may get different results every time you use the same recipe.

So watching the color development is always fun!

Potato Chip Patina on Brass and Copper - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Caution:
Patinas made with ordinary household products may be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or worn against the skin. Use in well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

Before starting this project, see Homemade Patina Precautions for safety guidelines.

Supplies:

  • The brass or copper pendant you made in my Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendant Tutorial:Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg(Or you can use any other copper or brass item that has NOT been varnished. Many commercially-available jewelry and hardware metals have been varnished).
  • Liquid dish soap (such as Dawn or whatever brand).
  • Small amount of baking soda.
  • #0000 steel wool – one or two small pieces.
  • Empty plastic grocery container such as the kind used for sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. The lid should fit pretty tightly.
    This should be a container you will NOT use for food again.
  • Wear appropriate protection – gloves, goggles, and breathing protection.
  • A bag of “Salt and Vinegar” potato chips.
  • A few teaspoons of regular household white vinegar.
  • Sealant – I use a clear, matte-finish, spray-on sealant called “Tree House Studio” Clear Acrylic Matte Coating, from Hobby Lobby.
    Krylon also has a product that’s pretty much the same thing, and about the same price.

Rustic Autumn Leaf with Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

First, Clean Your Metal:

IMPORTANT: Start with clean metal.

We need to clean your metal to remove all traces of skin oils and anything else that may resist the patina.

So before beginning the patina process, wash both sides of your metal pendant (or other item) thoroughly with a generous amount of liquid dish soap.

After washing off all of the dish soap, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto both sides of your pendant and scrub it well with your steel wool.

Scrub in the same direction as the grain of your metal.

Wash off all traces of baking soda – and then without letting your skin touch the newly cleaned metal, dry the metal thoroughly with paper towels.

Safety Note:

Do NOT eat the crushed potato chips you use in the patina process.

Throw them away when you’re completely finished with the patina.

There should still be plenty of fresh chips in the bag for munching! 🙂

Rustic Autumn Leaf with Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Side view of Rustic Autumn Leaf with Potato Chip Patina – tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

 

How to Create
a Potato Chip Patina:

In the bottom of your plastic grocery container, place a layer of crushed “Salt & Vinegar” potato chips, about an inch deep.

Place your clean, dry metal pieces on top of the crushed chips:

Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then completely cover the metal pieces with another layer of the crushed chips:

Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now sprinkle about 1/4 cup (59mL) of white household vinegar over the top layer of chips.

And finally, spray a little water over the top of the chip layer – enough so that the chips are moist and likely to cling damply to your metal pieces.

Now put the lid on your container, and set it where it’s safe from children, pets, and hungry people:

Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

You can check on your patina every 30 to 60 minutes – depending on how fast you see the color developing.

It may take anywhere from half an hour to 2 days to develop to the degree you wish.

After four hours, my metal leaves were developing a few nice deep blue splotches everywhere the potato chips were NOT touching them.

So I used tweezers to gently pick off most the chip crumbs from the metal, and just set the pendants on top of the layer of crushed chips.

Then I closed the container again.

An hour later, this is how my leaf pendants looked:

Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

So I removed the pendants from the patina mixture.

I gently picked all remaining chip crumbs off of the metal with my tweezers, and set the pendants out to air dry on a paper towel without washing them or disturbing the patina.

The color developed more as the pendants air dried:

Potato Chip Patina on Copper - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Underside of Copper Leaf - Potato Chip Patina - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Potato Chip Patina on Brass - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Potato Chip Patina on Brass - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Sealing Your Patina Finish:

If you don’t use some sort of sealant, your patina will naturally continue to darken or tarnish – which eventually will change or cover your original patina finish.

And because the finished patina surface itself may be harmful, always seal any items that have undergone a patina procedure.

When the patina is finished and dry, seal the patina using a clear spray lacquer.

Apply at least three light coats of lacquer on every patina surface of the metal, drying each coat thoroughly before applying the next coat.

I use a clear, matte-finish, spray-on sealant called “Tree House Studio” Clear Acrylic Matte Coating, from Hobby Lobby.

Krylon also has a product that’s pretty much the same thing, and about the same price.

Potato Chip Patina on Brass - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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Comments

  1. Colleen says:

    I absolutely LOVE these pendants!!! Thank you for sharing your potato chip patina, I can’t wait to give this a try!!!

  2. Amazing! potatoes?? The pendants are gorgeous. I would like to try it right now!! Thanks!

  3. What a great tutorial! I am going to have to try this out. Thanks for sharing.
    ~Kelsy

  4. Gorgeous! Great post. I’m not a jewelry maker but I think I can use this technique on a few other craft projects!

  5. WOW….step by step with beautiful results; I can’t wait to try them myself!!

  6. I did it this weekend and I’m delighted with the results!! Who would have known that such a simple procedure could produce a beautiful finish!!

  7. Thanks for letting me know, Lynn! That’s lovely to hear. 🙂

  8. Nancy B. says:

    Rena, This is so cool. I’m looking forward to trying it. Need to take a trip to the store for potato chips. Also, I love your site. Lots of information. Thank you. 🙂

  9. Rena, What a great tutorial! Got to try it. I have never worked with metal sheets. So I have to get all the tools. But it is so beautiful, I am going to try it.

    By the way, I tried your toe ring tutorials and made some for my craft fairs. I charged the infinity style $3 and one beaded ones $5. The $5 sold good. I learn so much from your blog. Thank you Rena

  10. Sheer genius! I can’t wait to try this out.
    I’ve just been reading a serious library book to learn about metal patination for jewellery – but this looks much simpler and more fun too!
    Thanks for posting it. 🙂

  11. Margriet says:

    Your tutorials are great! so well written and great pictures ! I always look forward to your postings ! Thanks.

  12. I love this idea! another thing to try might be masking off some areas of the metal with scotch tape or hotglue blobs to get a planned(semi anyhow) design!
    Then peel off the resist when It is done with the coloring process…

  13. ModernRogue says:

    I’m totally trying this! Just to be clear though, you didn’t rinse off the leaf at all before sealing it? Thanks again!

  14. Thank you all for your lovely comments on this project!

    ModernRogue, I removed every bit of the potato chip crumbs – even the tiniest speck – with tweezers. Then I let the color develop further as it air dried. I didn’t want to disturb the color that had developed by rinsing the pendant off. And after 3 coats of sealant, there is no hint of grease or vinegar potato chip odor on the pendant.

  15. Great project! i love patinas and sure never thought of chips as a delivery system. Just one clarification to avoid confused readers, lacquer and acrylic are two completely different things. I know you are using it here as a verb but it is actually a type of finish often used on metal. Thanks for the tutorial!

  16. Brenda Smith says:

    I tried this and when I took the items out all the patina was in clumps and just fell off! Oh well, on to another tech!

  17. The pendants are so unique with this technique. I am interested in trying this and need to know where I can purchase the copper and brass leaves to use.

  18. Hi Mardeena! We made the leaf pendants in my tutorial, Rustic Autumn Leaf Pendants (Tutorial). They aren’t difficult to make – and you can create any type of leaf shape you like! I’d love to hear how your finished leaves with patina turn out! 🙂

  19. Nanci Wesling says:

    This works really well, and when I re-read the directions, I was drawn to your statement that you saw more color where the chips didn’t touch the metal, so you set them on top. I tried setting two pieces of brass and one of copper and brass wire on a piece of paper on top of the chips, vinegar and water, and got a wonderful result leaving it overnight. The added plus is I don’t have to pick the chips off the metal! Thanks so much, Rena, for one of the best jewelry-making websites on the internet – so friendly, so much great info. You and your readers are just awesome!

  20. Gloria Borrero says:

    I can’t thank you enough for the great jewelry making info you share with us! I’m new to changing colors of metal, but have a hard time getting great colors with a torch. This tutorial in ingenious. My husband has just bent sent out to get a bag (or two) of potato chips. haha I’ve posted your website on my ‘Sharing Blogs, Sites, Online Stores, that I enjoy’ Pinterest board. Thanks again for your help.

  21. Thank you, Gloria, and you’re very welcome! Have fun with the patina, and I hope there will be enough potato chips (not used in the patina) for a treat for Hubby! 🙂

  22. I’m really into leaves of all kinds – glass, acrylic, metal, etc. So these patina leaves are something I really want to try. I especially want to try the copper leaves, as I have copper chain that will look good with it. I love the way you share with others your creative techniques!

    By the way, Rena, is there a patina technique that you would find in a bottle that you could buy to replicate this technique? Of course, the potato chip process is much more fun!

  23. Sue B says:

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial! I gave it a go and the mottling turned-out beautifully. My pieces looked gorgeous after finishing with glossy spray acrylic. It was also refreshing to just cut the leaf and bail all in one go with snips. No sawing or soldering, aaah.

  24. Sue B, you’re so welcome – and thanks for sharing how it worked out for you!

  25. I really don’t like using chemicals, so this process is wonderful, natural, and amazing. The results you have shown have surely made me want to try it. Thanks Rena

  26. Donna, you’re very welcome! And I’m like you when it comes to not wanting to use chemicals. 🙂

  27. Thanks for the explanation very detailed and easy to follow.

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