Saturday, January 15, 2011

Patina Love

I think I figured out a patina solution from household products that doesn't suck. I've tried sooo many different things, with little to no avail. The only patina that remotely worked for me was an expensive store bought chemical treatment from Michaels. It's about $7 for a small bottle. Sure, it works pretty well, but goes super fast. I knew I could save a shitload of money if I could just learn this magical alchemy that so many crafters have conquered.

What HASN'T worked for me? Vinegar. I dont get it. I've tried a dozen different vinegar methods without so much as a tint. If anything it made my brass look brighter and shinier since it's a natural cleaner. Woo hoo, so there you go. If you want to do the OPPOSITE of patina, try vinegar.

The first thing you need to do is clean your pieces. I use dish soap and a toothbrush (or vinegar, whatevs). You gotta get all the oils and factory dirt off. Rinse, pat them dry with a paper towel and set them aside. In a well venhilated area set up your ammonia station. Take a container with a lid (Tupperware is fine but don't use it for storing food after doing this, duh!) and fill it a couple of inches with household ammonia, I used clear but as far as I know it doesn't matter what kind you use. Cut a piece of wire and string your findings so they're hanging ABOVE the ammonia, not touching it. If it touches it, the affected area will turn black. You may decide later that you want that but if you want an even color make sure it doesn't touch.

Snap the lid on so the wire is sticking out on both ends holding the pieces in place. I haven't taken pictures of myself doing this but I did a search and found someone elses ( to give you a visual.

The original article I read on this said that leaving it overnight was plenty of time. For good measure I gave it a full 24 hours. I noticed definite oxidation. The brass had a greenish white film over it and the copper was significantly darker. Come to find out it can take up to 10 days to get the full effect of "ammonia fuming", so I was misinformed and jumped the gun a bit.

I decided to mix up a few other tricks and methods on those same pieces while I waited on the next batch (since I have such a long wait)...

First, give them an ammonia/salt water bath. Heat water up just before the boiling point and pour it in a small bowl with 3 or 4 tablespoons of salt. With craft tweezers alternate the pieces between the ammonia and the hot salt water. Back and Forth (forever, jk) I did this about 5 times. The heat, then the chemical is supposed to make the metal more willing to accept color. With the ammonia being the last one, lay the pieces out on a paper towel. Before they dry sprinkle salt, dried cilantro and the secret ingredient, a drop of Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing on the pieces. Let them sit for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Lightly brush of the excess and you'll have a beautiful rustic patinaed piece. Spray it with a clear matte coating to ensure the durability of the colors.

All of these ingredients I bought at the dollar store with the exception of Mrs. Stewarts Liquid Bluing. I got that at the grocery store for a few bucks. I had no luck finding it when I lived in Florida so if you have this same problem try using blue food coloring. I haven't tried it myself but based on the consistancy of Mrs. Stewarts (basically just a blue dye) I have a feeling it would work. Now I'm curious about other dyes and colors that may work as a substitute. Maybe using yellow Rite dye would make the object a brighter green? Also, why stick to just cilantro? Any dried green herb spice should work. I wonder what metal would look like with pepper sprinkled on it along with salt? Experiment is the mother of invention so once you master the oxidation part, play around with the colorization aspects. The possibilities are limitless!

and just to brag, here's my newest toy I got at the Pasadena Bead and Design show...

Gilders Paste! The amazing wax based product that covers metal, glass, plastic, wood, leather even upholtrsy! It's the funnest stuff ever, I got this color....

Doesn't have the charm of natural patina but it's still a lovely green and I know I'm going to have a blast with it!

~ ~ ~ EDIT! EDIT! EDIT! ~ ~ ~

Ok, so after putting this technique to practice for a more substancial period of time I decide to report back on the results. After four days of fuming multiple pieces of both brass and copper, here are the results...

They turned out more of a blue than green! I'm happy about this because I always thought blue patina would be hard to achieve. I'm wondering if the fact that I put so many pieces in one container effected the color. One clue to let you know that the pieces are about ready is the color of the ammonia. If you start with clear ammonia then after the 3rd day it should start to have a bluish tint. This is an indication that it might be ready.

have fun!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year, New City, New Life, et cetera...

Have you ever started an epic blog and gotten distracted from it? You say "I'll come back to it after work or school or whatever..." but it never seems to happen. This long blog sits unfinished in "draft" limbo before you finally realize that all it's doing is preventing you from moving forward into future blogdom.

I usually write this grand scale gift blog after Christmas. I've been doing that since the ancient days of Xanga, but this year for some reason the blog just couldn't seem to finish itself. It could be that I'm out of my comfort zone and there are endless distractions around me constantly. This could also be why my movie reviews have come to a screeching hault. I'm doing the best I can to keep myself balanced and unfortunately my blogs seem to be suffering. A pity because writing has always been a pivotal part in what keeps me well adjusted. Since it's a new year I've made a few resolutions I'd like to share here...

1. Write more often. Now that 2010 has passed I can safely say it was a good year. I married my sweetheart, my creativity levels were high and I even made a little money from it, not to mention my movie business which is still doing extremely well paid for MANY supply shopping sprees, birthday presents and even the occasional bill! One constant thing I can say about 2010 is that I kept a good journaling regiment. Whether it was my hand held journal, sketch book or one of my various blogs. Now with all of these distractions I'm going to have to make time for it. That's why I've made it a resolution. To set time aside at least once a week to put some thoughts down on paper or into blogosphere cloud.

2. To bring Endless Fall back. What's Endless Fall you ask? It's this movie marathon me my friend Tony started over 4 years ago! Watch a movie every day. It's as simple as that. Of course life comes up so I changed the rules to a movie for everyday of the month. Meaning, you can skip days, but make up for it on a free day. You'd be amazed how fulfilling it is. I always kept an Endless Fall diary where I logged every movie I'd watch along with any notes I may have. I'd usually make a list of the top 10 at the end of each month. I bought a notebook specifically for this purpose the other day. Now to just start doing it again. It will also motivate me to write reviews again, which will aid resolution #1. It's win/win across the board when Endless Fall is involved!

3. Up the ante with my jewelry making. I love making jewelry. In all reality it's the one creative thing I could see myself doing permanantly for a living. I learned alot this past year and now I'm ready to advance even more. I've just learned some basic wire wrapping techniques and I'd like to get even better at it. Not only that, I also want to start using better materials. I want to graduate from base metals to silver and gold. I want to use stones instead of glass and cheap crystals. Of course I'll still use those things, but I want "Atomic Caravan Studios" to be associated with quality not just pretty costume jewelry. I've been spending all my spare time getting an inventory back up and now I finally feel like I have enough to revive my Etsy. Also thinking about trying out Artfire, just a basic account, since I've heard so many mixed things about it. Eventually I'd like to graduate to really professional jewelry. Real fire tools and metal saws. All in due time! Stay tuned for updates on all of these things.

4. Learn to bake. Thankfully I come from a long line of amazing cooks. Not just cooks, natural chefs. Holiday events in my family are something to be revered. Being the youngest, I'm the last to start exploring this gift that we all have. Yes, I'm using the word gift, because now that I'm seeing what it's like in another family I can appreciate the fact that not everyone can make a meal happen with a magical finesse. I think for the most part I have savory dishes down. A combination of trial, error and Martha Stewart have made me a decent chef. What's standing in my way? Baked goods. Sure, I can make a simple drop cookie, but what about pastries, cakes (and icing), fancy breads, tortes, et cetera. There's this whole world of chef-ing-ton I've yet to explore. Getting a Cuisine Art food processor as a wedding gift will bring good tidings, I'm sure. So by the end of the year, watch out!

5. Explore LA. Ok, so since I've been here so far I've spent my "spare time", job hunting, then jumping right into a full time job. A shitty retail one at that. Now January is underway and I'm still working 5 days a week. I'm not complaining, the cash flow is good and in a place like LA you really need it. But I still don't feel like I've had the full LA experience. I know, that takes years, right? Even a partial LA experience. I'd at least like to put a dent in it. So to remind myself why I moved here I'm making it apart of my New Years resolution to do the following....
  • Have one day a week where I venture out of my city. Living in SGV can be a little boring. Sure, I love the Asian markets but I can only buy so many herbal teas and encounter oh so many pissed off Chinese people. There is more to the area than this. There are over 200 cities in Los Angeles County and I'm going to have to make an effort to pursue these little adventures. I'll try and take pictures to commemorate these events.
  • On a smaller scale, something I can do around my neighborhood to get the full experience is try a new restaurant every week. Let's face it, we eat out a lot. There are too many people in this house eating any groceries we may be bringing in to rely solely on that.  Besides, eating out is cheap here and there are a lot more healthy options (one good thing about all the Asian food) than most places. So rather than getting pigeon holed into the same greasy spoon I'm making a point to be bold and experiment with the varieties of culture I'm surrounded by.

So there you have it. Not too bad, eh? Nothing too difficult to accomplish, but small things I can do to ensure a good year. And just so I don't completely break tradition here are my top five favorite Christmas presents...

FINALLY!  Thanks to my Aunt Regina I can retire my crappy German bootleg of my FAVORITE movie! I think this calls for a revised review on Atomic Caravan!

I LOVE Finders Keepers, even more so if it's under the "B-Music" cannon. This was from my awesome hubby. The description says it all, "Imagine Melody Nelson taking a trip to La Planete Sauvage with a synth, a drum kit and some herbal french cigarettes."

Since my discovery of it a few months ago, Mystic Topaz is my very favorite stone. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that my Mother in-law got me these GORGEOUS earrings!

Through out the month of October when we were doing some serious job hunting I really just wanted to curl up into the fetal position and watch Powerpuff Girls non-stop. I'm not sure what brought that urge on but being out of my comfort zone and having to branch out into a brave new world made me want to retreat to something safe and familiar in my spare time. I made several passing comments about wanting to watching some Powerpuff, so what does my husband do? Gets me the ENTIRE series! What a sweet heart! It's even better than I remembered. Fan fo' life.

Oh, Grandma. You spoil me so. I got this awwwesome espresso machine from my Grandma. I use it every day. I suppose that technically makes it my favorite gift? BEST EVER.


On that note I shall depart. I have more jewelry picture to edit and I have to go to work soon. Sucks. Until next time...