Truly One of a Kind: 15 Ways to Add Color and Texture to Metal with Susan Lenart Kazmer

As a complement to the metal surface work Susan touched on in her newest book Resin Alchemy, Susan’s 15+ Ways to Alter Metal Surfaces: cold enameling, resin, powders, pastels, and more is a video exploration of 15 ways to alter the surface of metal for jewelry making and art. When you play, explore, and experiment with adding textures and patinas to metals, Susan says, “you’re making it your own, because nobody else is going to have that but you, if you take it that step further.”

“Nobody else is going to have that but you.” I love most things that are truly one-of-a-kind things, as random and unique in their beauty (or lack of) as nature itself. No two snowflakes, no two rocks, no two seashells are exactly alike; texture and patina are two ways to ensure no two jewelry pieces are exactly alike, as well.

The addition of texture and/or patina can make any piece of jewelry, no matter how similar or even identical to another piece it might be, completely unique. Try as we might, it would be impossible to create the exact same texture or exact same patina on one metal piece as on another. Their very nature, so random and serendipitous, prevents it, and I think that’s a definite bonus for us jewelry makers. You could make 100 copper cuff bracelets that were identical, but giving each some time in a torch’s flame to create a heat patina would make it different from the others. A dozen identical discs hammered with the same textured hammer would each become different–similar, yes, but unique and not identical. I love the possibilities that texture and patina offer for one-of-a-kind-ness.

Preserving Patinas on Metal

It’s heartbreaking when the patina stars align and you achieve just the right look–the perfect flame-painted colors (heat patina) or a perfectly pretty verdi gris–only for it to change or completely wear away as you wear your creations. Susan has the solution for preserving your hard-sought, one-of-a-kind patinas.

“One of the things that I realized was the most important element in patinas and when you’re doing surface work is the sealant,” Susan says in 15+ Ways to Alter Metal Surfaces. “Really you can do anything you want to with metal as far as pencils, even baking some of your metals and getting a nice little patina on there, as long as it’s sealed.” Here are a few of the ways Susan recommends preserving patinas:

  • To create a shiny surface or to preserve an unstable patina, she recommends coating with resin. You can also sand the surface of the resin for a matte finish, if you prefer it. Resin can also be a faux counter enamel to provide strength on the reverse of an enameled piece–while also allowing any heat patinas that form there during firing to show.
  • For a fragile patina like rust or verdi gris, Susan recommends just spraying with matte medium or some type of spray fixative. Anything else could take away from the light, flaky look of those types of patinas.
  • For a quick and easy sealant, clear nail polish is her go-to sealant, because the alcohol in it makes for a short drying time.

Susan also shares that she doesn’t usually seal a piece right away, she gives it a day or two to move into its natural state before sealing it. I think this is a wise point, because generally once its sealed, there’s little chance of changing it. If you give a piece a day or two to rest, you’ll see if anything is going to change and maybe have a shot at altering it before sealing it for good.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; Susan shares more than 15 ways to add texture, color, patina and other character to your metal pieces in her fun and informative video workshop. Order or instantly download your copy of 15+ Ways to Alter Metal Surfaces!

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