Giving your jewelry a nice end finish can make or break the look of a piece. Sometimes a nice patina can bring out the texture, especially in an electroformed piece. Other times all you need is a nice high polish to really let that copper color come out.
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In this post I'm going to show you how to achieve 3 easy patina finishes for your copper jewelry using a single patina gel.
I know a lot of people wonder how you get that full black patina. I'm going to show you how to achieve that look. I use the Cool Tools liver of sulfur gel and hot water. That's it. It's really super simple once you have the right product.
I take a Tupperware bowl, fill it with hot water from my sink, it doesn't have to be boiling water. I fill my bowl with about an inch of water, how much water you need it going to depend on how many pieces you're oxidizing and also how big your piece it.
I squeeze out about a quarter teaspoon, maybe less, of my patina gel into my bowl of water. Then I drop my pieces in. I then take the opposite end of a paint brush to swirl the pieces around in the mixture. My pieces turn a black color fairly quickly. It really doesn't take that long at all.
Once I have the patina I'm looking for I rinse out my bowl and take my piece out, rinse them and dry them off on a paper towel. If you're wanting less than full coverage of patina then you only need to dip your piece in for a split second then have a bowl of water and baking soda mixture to dip your piece in afterward to neutralize your piece to stop the patina process, then dip in clean water. Keep doing this until you have the results you're looking for. But for this post, I'm doing all black pieces so I don't care to neutralize my piece.
Now it's time to create our different finishes!
Finish 1: All Black Patina
Once you've oxidized your piece, you're done! All you have to do is seal the heck out of that piece because the black oxidation will rub off on your finger. My favorite sealer for copper pieces is ProtectaClear. It's the longest lasting metal sealer I've been able to find.
It sometimes comes with a sponge brush but I like to use a regular paint brush because the sealant will harden and I've noticed when you dip the paintbrush in and give the bristles a little wiggle on the side of the can (on the inside) they'll break apart easier than a sponge brush will.
This sealant will give your piece a little shine since the oxidation has more of a matte finish.
Finish 2: Dark Patina with Hint of Copper
With this type of finish, you're going to take your fully oxidized piece and toss it in the tumbler. I use the Chicago brand double barrel tumbler from Harbor Freight and I love this tumbler, never had an issue with it.
I mix some stainless steel shot, mixed shape, with water and a burnishing compound (you can also use a drop of blue Dawn dish soap instead). I let my piece tumble for just about 20-30 minutes then take it out.
This finish is mostly black with just a bit of copper peeking through and it also has a nice shine. It's almost like a gunmetal finish, but with copper. Once I'm happy with the result, I seal with ProtectaClear.
Finish 3: Oxidized Recesses
This is the most common patina finish. The patina stays inside the recessed areas while you polish the entire piece revealing the shiny copper on the raised metal areas.
I take my fully oxidized piece and use my Dremel rotary tool, you can also use a flex shaft, to polish up the raised metal. My favorite polishing compound that I don't use nearly as much as I'd like is red rouge. If you're looking for that super high shine than this is your compound. I also use a felt tip (you can also use cotton, muslin, which is what I'm going to be trying out soon, I've seen some great results with this stuff, or whatever you favorite buffing tip is). I spin my tip onto my bar of rouge because the heat of the spinning tip melts the wax onto it.
Then I just buff away the oxidation until it's only settled into the recessed areas. You can see the shape of the felt tip, it's not going to get into all those recessed areas so it's great for achieving this type of look. Something like those cotton and muslin tips I linked to above would take away more oxidation. But if that's the look you're going, having less oxidization, then go for one of those other tips instead.
Once I'm happy wit the result, I seal it.
Not your piece is ready to be worn!
I have still yet to make a post about ProtctaClear versus Ren Wax but I will be coating two rings today, one with ProtectaClear and one with Ren Wax and wearing both on separate hands and snapping on photo everyday to show how each product lasts. So that post will be ready in about 2 weeks.
What was your favorite patina finish here? Do you have another favorite finish you like to give your pieces? Let me know below!