Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oxidizing Brass

The brass findings I buy in bulk generally come in raw brass form, so I've been wanting to oxidize them myself to give them an antiqued bronze look. I've searched in the Etsy Forums for instructions and figured I would try the ammonia fume method. This weekend was my weekend to experiment. It worked like a charm and is so easy! So here are the items and steps I used:

thread, Glad plastic container, clear ammonia

First I washed the findings with soap and water to get rid of any oily residue. Then, I strung the brass findings onto the thread.
Then I poured some ammonia into the plastic container and then held the threaded findings across the top. Making sure the thread is taut, I snapped the lid on. Remember, ammonia fumes are toxic, so be sure to do this in a well ventilated space.
After about 1/2 hour to an hour, I took the brass findings out of the container and let it air out a bit. The longer you leave it, the darker it turns. The bottom picture of the locket shows what happens when it touches the ammonia. It turns almost black with a green verdigris. The only thing I have to do now is seal it. I read that I can just use spray lacquer which is available at your local hardware store. So after trying this, I think I put way too much ammonia in the container. It was a small one, so only a little bit is needed since those fumes are pretty powerful. So good luck and have fun!


kerry said...

great post!! its way easier than I thought - where can you get ammonia from, grocery store? I've been using jax and it leaves this black crud on the brass that I then have to scrub off =( so much unnecessary work!

June Shin said...

Hey Kerry,
Yup, I just bought ammonia at my local grocery store. Give it a shot!

Kristin Friesen said...

I'm going to have to try this... the method I'm using right now is a HUGE pain. I use some chemicals from Rio Grande which I have to dilute to just the right percentage with water, stir them around for just the right amount of time. After too long the chemicals stop working and give my brass a flaky finish (nasty) so I have to remix and start over on those pieces. Then how do I dispose of the chemicals? Pour them down the drain I guess but that doesn't seem right... Plus the sealer I'm using is a liquid dip and they always drip and get too much on them, I completely ruined a batch of postcard charms with my varnish dip that pooled up and got all nasty on them. Your method sounds much easier than all that :) Thanks for the tips!

f2images said...

Oooh, I can't wait to try this!!

AsianCajuns said...

Oh my gosh, June! This is so cool! I never knew about this. Can't wait to see the pieces you create!