Tips on Patina



· a green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.

· a gloss or sheen on wooden furniture produced by age and polishing.

· an acquired change in the appearance of a surface : plankton added a golden patina to the shallow, slowly moving water.

···This definition is so boring···So much beauty can be achieved with the use of color on metals.   The methods of achieving these ends are varied. ···

Assemble the following materials

Liver of Sulfur Liquid or Dry Chunk

Baking Soda One bowl each of the following:

1. Liver of Sulfur Solution
2. Ice Water
3. Warm Water
4. Room temperature water with baking soda

Stainless Steel Tweezers

Brass Brush

1. I like to use the liquid liver of sulfur. The liquid solution offers a great deal of consistency and it is easy, just pour it into the bowl and off you go. When I travel, I use the dry chunk form. If you choose to use the dry medium portion out the container into small amounts and store them in a dark airtight container. I use old film canisters.

2. Use of colored pencils, oil based pastels; permanent markers and enamel paints applied to the piece and then sealed offer a wide variety of options.

3. Pigments, spices like paprika, enamel powders, and ground glass can be laid on the piece, layered in Doming Resin or Epoxy to seal them in.

4. The sulphur content in hard-boiled eggs can be used to achieve patinas if you are a very patient person.

I DO NOT use the toxic chemicals like Black Max™ or Silver Black™. Ecologically, they are some of the unfriendliest chemicals around, they smell worse than the Liver of Sulphur ever could. I not so jokingly refer to these chemicals as "Three Headed Baby Chemicals."


I was always taught that the way to patina was to make sure that the patina solution was HOT. I saw the light when I was shown that using a combination of a room temperature liver solution, a bowl of cold ice water, a bowl of warm water and a bowl of room temperature water with a healthy serving of baking soda offered me a wider range of patinas.

By working slowly, the patina will start with soft gold tones appearing and depending on the chemical composition of your water you can achieve patina in the copper tones, bronzes, blues and greens. Liver of Sulfur will react differently towards sterling silver than it wll with fine silver. Sterling will generally not give you these more delicate tones. 

Slow and steady is going to win this race.

By just using a hot patina solution the patina will rush to black immediately and all of the possible nuances will be lost. In order to achieve these variations dip the piece in the room temperature liver solution and swirl
it around for a bit.

You will notice that the patina will continue even if you take it out of the solution; the warmer the piece the faster the reaction. The moment you see something that you like rinse it off in the cold water solution and then quickly give it a good bath in the baking soda solution.

You can then speed up the patina process by dipping the piece in the warm water or really slow it down by dipping it in the ice water. Once you hanve adjusted the base temperature of the piece place it back in the liver solution,

  • Only use stainless steel tweezers in the
    solution so you do not contaminate the patina.

You can achieve additional depth to your pieces
by getting a patina to a good point, rinse it off,
use the soft brass brush to pull some of the patina
off and then start the process over again. Each pass
adds deeper and deeper tones. If there is a well or
recesses that you want to get a really rich tones into
you can use a paintbrush to place in a layer of
the liver solutoin and let it sit till you see the desired results.

Patina will always continue to evolve even if you
use the baking soda bath solution to neutralize the
liver solution. The only way to stop patina from
continuing its journey is to seal it by using one
of several methods.
·Sally Hard as Nails
·Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic
·Krylon Dulling Spray


Copyright © 2014, Anne Mitchell