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Homemade Patina Precautions and Techniques

by Rena Klingenberg.  © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved

Homemade Patina Precautions and Techniques by Rena Klingenberg,  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Patinas created with ordinary household products may be harmful if ingested, inhaled, or worn against the skin.

Here’s what you need to know – before you begin a patina procedure.

Parts of the Patina
That May Be Harmful:

  • The patina solution, fumes, and process.
  • The final patina surface on the metal.

Do Not Patina These Items:

  • Objects that may be used by children.
  • Objects that could come in contact with food or beverages.
  • Objects involved in inhalation (such as electronic cigarettes and their accessories).

Safety Precautions:

  • Patina procedures should be handled by adults only.
  • Work with patinas in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.
  • Process your patinas only in containers and utensils that will NOT be used later for food or drink.
  • Wear appropriate protection – gloves, goggles, and breathing protection.
  • Do not patina surfaces that will be worn directly against the skin (such as in jewelry piercings, the backs of pendants, or the inside surface of rings and bracelets).
  • Keep all patina processes where they cannot be accessed by curious children or pets.

For Best Patina Results, Clean Your Metal First:

IMPORTANT: Start with clean metal.

You 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 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 metal and scrub it well with a small piece of #0000 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 it thoroughly with paper towels.

Then proceed with your patina technique.

Homemade Patina Precautions and Techniques by Rena Klingenberg  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Properly Seal Items
After the Patina Process

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.

I have also heard of people using clear automotive enamel as a patina sealant, although I have not tried that myself.

Properly Seal Alcohol Ink
and Patina Ink on Metal

If you’re using Ranger brand alcohol inks or patina inks to color your metal, here’s the official recommendation from the maker of these inks:

“Alcohol inks must be sealed with a water based sealer. We recommend Ranger’s Gloss Multi-Medium.” (Source: http://rangerink.com/faq.)

Three Things to Know About
Sealing Patina Surfaces:

  1. The sealant may change the patina’s color a bit – often to a duller or browner color than the original patina.However, my patinas have had little to no color change with the clear, matte-finish, spray-on sealant I mentioned above.
  2. 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 anyway.
  3. Unfortunately, some people’s skin reacts to sealants. So you should avoid applying patinas and sealants on surfaces that will be worn directly against the skin.

Excellent Alternatives to Patinas:

Do the above precautions make it sound like patinas are not the route you want to go?

Here are some other good ways to color metals:

For safety’s sake you MUST still take all the same precautions as mentioned above.

  • Alcohol Inks: This is easy and fun, and the colors are gorgeous.
  • Patina Inks: These inks are made to adhere to metal. They’re easy to work with, and dry very quickly.
  • Gilders Paste: There are lots of ways to apply these beautiful colors to get the look you like. Note that with Gilders Paste your metal surface needs to be textured, distressed, sanded, or etched so the paste has something to adhere to.