How to Create Colorful Patinas on Metal Jewelry: 9 Metal Prep and Patina Pointers

For so many years, I was a metal purist; I just wanted my jewelry metal to look like the metal it is–copper, brass, bronze, or silver. But when the beautiful Patina book came out, I realized I’ve always loved patinas on metal, especially verdi gris copper, so why not on jewelry? All of a sudden, I wanted those weather-worn metal patinas on metal jewelry, too.

I’ve always had a huge love for brass and copper metal stampings, so patinas were a natural next step and a great way to make my metal stampings more distinctive. Patinas help accentuate the details in the stampings and allow more of their texture and beauty to show. And then I learned enameling, which gave me a new appreciation for color on metal–all kinds of color, not just natural patinas like verdi gris and rust. Opaque enamels hide the pretty designs in metal stampings, but fortunately there are nearly endless colorful options for metal patinas on the market that provide the pretty colors and still allow the textures and designs in metal stampings to show through.

using patina on metal stampings

Colorful patinas highlight the details of metal stampings in this necklace by Vintaj® Education Director and Signature Designer Jess Lincoln

Preparing Metal for Patina

For best results and longer-lasting color when adding patina to metal jewelry, make sure your metal is properly prepared to accept and hold the color with these nine patina pointers.

  1. Make sure all sanding and finishing is done to the metal before beginning the patination process. Even purchased blanks and stampings might require a bit of cleanup to remove any sharp edges or burs leftover from manufacturing.
  2. Clean the metal with Dawn dish detergent (for some reason, blue Dawn is the Dawn of choice for metal artists) or a similar grease-removing product to clean off any oils that might remain from the manufacturing process or handling.
  3. Give the surface a quick swipe with an alcohol pad to remove any soapy residue or other dirt.
  4. Try to hold the metal from only the edges or use the alcohol pad to place it on a disposable plate or other work surface and don’t touch it again with your fingers.
  5. Use thin gloves to hold the metal component if you have to hold it during patina application.
  6. Once the patina is applied and you’ve removed any excess, allow the metal to dry without disturbing it. You can remove excess wet patina with a cloth, or wait until it’s dry and lightly sand off the high points to allow the metal to show through, leaving the patina in recessed areas.
    how to add patina to metal stampings

    Sanding a bit of color off the high points allows more detail to show in these earrings by Jess Lincoln.

  7. In addition to using quality patinas on squeaky-clean metal, you can also prolong the life of your patinated metals by sealing the patina. Popular choices for patina sealant include Renaissance Wax, various clear Krylon spray sealants, Vintaj’s clear glaze/sealant, ProtectaClear, and others–even resin.
  8. Test new-to-you sealants on non-crucial areas or samples to make sure the sealant doesn’t react with and alter the patina before applying it to your masterpiece.
  9. Check the label instructions of the sealant you use, but most sealants should be applied in multiple thin layers for best results.

P.S. While we’re talking about patinas . . . With mouth-watering, summery colors like fire opal, garden agate, and green opal, it’s hard to resist the new Vintaj patina colors, which are featured in the jewelry photos above. They have 35 colors now! Learn more about them and check out those pretty colors in the video below!




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