Some methods for colouring the surface of metal

June 18, 2008

with examples from Etsy

  • Heating copper unevenly with a torch can create interesting patterns of oxidisation (marbled orange, black, brown).
    • Don’t pickle!
    • The surface can be protected, for example, with a rouge polish.

(from thenoisyplume at Etsy)

  • Leaf, powders, and foils can be applied to create a more precious and/or more colourful appearance.
    • Apply Japanese gold size to the desired area and allow it to dry before applying the leaf or powder.
    • To apply leaf rub a sable brush against your cheek to generate static electricity and use the brush to break and lift pieces of leaf.
    • This finish is quite delicate and works best when inset, for example, in a domed or textured surface.

(from willaburke at Etsy)

  • Enamelling is a great way to apply vivid colours to metal. Enamels may be translucent or opaque and can be used in conjunction with foils, cloisonné wire etc.

(from Studio94 at Etsy)

  • A copper plating may be obtained by placing metal in a pickle that has had copper in it.
  • You can use a variety of store bought (such as antiquing solutions) or hand mixed chemicals to create various patinas on metals. Liver of Sulphur (Potassium Sulfide) can be used to darken metal and an ammonium chloride solution can be used to create a characteristic green patina on copper. A number of patina recipes can be found in ‘The Complete Metalsmith’.

(from AntiGenre at Etsy)

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One Response to “Some methods for colouring the surface of metal”

  1. AntiGenre Says:

    Great post – thanks for all the information about the different techniques! I’m really interested in trying enamelling and cloisonné. Thank you also for featuring my ring!


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