Texture and Patina on Jewelry: Creating Metal Effects with Household Items

I've always been a thrifty girl. I save interesting things to reuse in all kinds of projects, such as beautiful packaging that can be turned into paper art or snippets of ribbon that have a million uses. I also enjoy finding multiple uses for household items, and I often find myself looking for ways to use regular everyday items instead of buying a specific tool that only has one purpose.

Texturing Copper with Household Items
I love all the special hammers that add unique textures to metal, and I really enjoy using a rolling mill on metal to imprint it with a gorgeous pattern–but I've recently found that there are great textures to be had using items that are just sitting around the house. Here are some examples of textures I created on copper sheet, just by walking around my house (the kitchen, mostly) with a creative eye. Many of them I just rubbed in place with my finger–until I sliced my thumb on the edge of the copper–so then I wore gloves and/or used a large mother-of-pearl button as a burnisher.


This one is so subtle, it was hard to photograph–but it's a very attractive look. I simply laid the metal strip on my textured tile countertops and rubbed it with a wooden spoon. There's hardly any texture, but the metal has a matte, almost silky fabric look to it now that I love.

I love the bright orange achieved on this copper strip by simply holding it over and in a flame. Be sure to wear gloves–the copper conducts heat and gets very hot very fast. I'm going to keep doing this one to see what other colors I can achieve.


I love polka dots, and I achieved a fun dotty effect on my copper strip by simply wrapping it around this vintage hobnail glass and pressing firming to transfer the impression.

I pressed this strip against my tiny spice grater for an interesting row of dots. I could move the metal around and do it a few more times for an even more random pattern.

More dots–this time achieved by banging the metal with a plastic-tipped hairbrush while it lay on a folded linen towel. I love the randomness of it.

I laid this metal strip on a thin linen kitchen towel and beat the heck out of it with a small whisk. The indentations are more like short lines than dots–I've never created anything like that with texturing hammers before.


I imprinted texture on these copper strips by rubbing a button over the metal while it was placed on a dish of mine (top) and a silver frame (bottom). The dish would have worked well for a curved piece, or maybe if I had moved the metal to a new spot and textured it again.

This shell was too fragile for much pressure, but I got a pretty neat texture by simply pressing the copper sheet metal against it. For heavier-gauge metal, it would have to be a much sturdier seashell.


I think this is my favorite; I rolled a fairly sharp-edged screw over the metal strip while it was laying in my hand (gloved) lengthwise and then again slightly at an angle. It didn't cut through the metal but it almost did, and it fluted it in a very neat way. The result is a sort of harlequin pattern with interesting pleat-like ridges.


For more great ways to add interest and depth to your metal jewelry designs with textures and patinas, order our new two-DVD set Metalsmith Essentials: Textures and Patinas with Helen Driggs. After I'd done my little experiment, I watched Helen's video and learned that she also shares tips for creating texture and patina on metal with common household items. She shows how to use a rolling mill to transfer textures onto metal, how to use hammers and simple hand tools to texture metal, and foolproof techniques for laying out text and designs when you're stamping metal.

Helen shares how to create patinas on metal using simple household chemicals and how to prep your metal pieces beforehand so they'll accept patinas well. She also covers the safety basics you need when texturing or patinating metals in your studio, and more. Grab Helen's info-filled two-DVD set Metalsmith Essentials: Textures and Patinas–via instant download, instant HD download, or order a traditional DVD set. Your metal jewelry designs will never be the same again!

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