Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Joy of Patination

This is a question I see time and time again in various forums. "How do I get a patina on my metal?" There are as many guides and recipes as there are metal workers out there, and Google can be a bit intimidating. I found this very easy and handy reference guide through "Old Home Interiors" magazine, and thought I'd share.

ALWAYS use eye protection, gloves (latex are good, but nitrile are much better), an apron and good ventillation. Please keep all chemicals stored WAY out of reach of children, even if you think your kids are old enough to know better. Patination is a fascinating process, and if your little lab assistant want to play mad scientist, bad things could happen (G-d forbid). If the weather allows, I like to take an old ironing board and set it up outside.

You can't get better ventilation, and the outdoor light really lets you see what kind of colors you're getting. If you are doing heat processs, you can dip the pieces indoors, and then take them out to the ironing board to dry. If you stove has a ventilation hood, make sure that it actually vents outside, instead of just blowing the chemicals around in your house. (You'd be surprised how many vent hoods don't meet code. Mine blows the smoke directly up onto the ceiling, and into the smoke detector. Beep beep beep!)

If you need to do patination when it's cold outside, set aside a room where you can open a window, and then bundle up! Close off that room from the rest of the house so that you don't end up heating the whole outdoors. A bathroom with a window to the outdoors is perfect, and you can plug in a hotplate to do hot process dipping. Do not be tempted to work with chemicals indoors and then think you can just crack a window later to let it air out. You'll end up with a migraine or worse before you know what happened. Remember, children and pets will feel the effects of chemical vapors much sooner than you will, so don't go by what you "feel" is safe. Always err on the side of caution.

This is by no means a complete tutorial. Read up a lot, go have fun, and expect the unexpected! Patination is a very unpredictable process, and you never know what you'll get.

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