Tips and Tricks

TIPS AND TRICK ON RAW BRASS WASHING INSTRUCTIONS FOR RAW BRASS ITEMS: Wash the brass charms & other brass items in a solution of dish detergent and warm water to eliminate oil residue from the manufacturing process. An old toothbrush works great for scrubbing the charms. Rinse thoroughly in warm water. Dry the charms immediately to prevent water spots. If you are making large quantities of jewelry, you might want to invest in a bullet casing cleaner. This is an electric vibrating machine filled with a cleaning media ( ground corncob or walnut shells), and brass polish. You can clean several hundred pieces in about 2 hours. The only drawback is that the media gets inside the puffed charms and is hard to get out. It is available from Midway ( see sources page for address & item number). Raw brass items that have spots or a dull finish can be cleaned with polish Hagerty 100 metal polish. This polish removes the most stubborn stains from brass, we have not found anything that works as well. It can be purchased online. After using the polish, wash the piece with dish detergent & water, then rinse and dry it with a towel (do not let it air dry, as water spots will form on it) before antiquing and painting it. ANTIQUING: Items may be antiqued with dark brown or black acrylic craft paint for a traditional look. ( I use Deco-Art Soft Black) Coat the entire piece. with paint ( I do one side at a time, and if it is a large piece, I’ll do one half at a time ) and immediately wipe off the excess paint with a paper towel or soft rag, ( old tee-shirts work well ) leaving paint in the crevices. If it is too light , simply repeat the process. If it is too dark or you just don't like the way it looks, you can scrub the paint off with a toothbrush, and start over. For a different look, you can “ pickle” the brass pieces with white acrylic craft paint, or experiment on your own for a unique color effect. PAINTING: Items may be painted with acrylic, or metallic acrylic craft paints after antiquing them. I recommend putting one (1) coat of spray lacquer on the pieces (after antiquing them) before painting them. The paint seems to stick better . Brass stampings may also be colored with alcohol inks. Permanent black industrial marker works well AMMONIA FUMING: HOW TO ACHIEVE AN AGED LOOK TO RAW BRASS using the AMMONIA FUMING method THIS METHOD SHOULD ONLY BE DONE OUTSIDE OR IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA!!!! AMMONIA IS A HIGHLY TOXIC CHEMICAL!!!! Please read the safety and hazard warnings on the ammonia bottle and follow them!!! Materials needed: FRESH ammonia (clear ammonia from the grocery store will work) IF THE AMMONIA ISN'T FRESH IT WON'T WORK lg. plastic airtight container (tub) small plastic container (NO LID), (like a margarine dish) piece of plywood or cardboard small blocks of wood to hold up plywood or cardboard NOTE: We have played with this process on a small scale, and have found that it works best with the heavier, more textured pieces, and filigree. It doesn't work well with the shinier, smoother brass. We suggest that you experiment with various pieces until you get the results you want. DIRECTIONS: Cut the plywood or cardboard so that it will lay flat in your plastic container (tub) leaving air space around the edges, and prop it up off the bottom of the container with the scrap blocks of wood. Lay out your brass pieces in a single layer right side up on the plywood or cardboard. ( If your tub is tall enough, you can do several "shelves", separating the shelves with blocks of wood.)Pour some ammonia into the small plastic container (the amount you will use will depend on the size of the tub you are using, a small tub the size of a shoebox, you just need a few tablespoons. If it is a large tub, you would need 1/2 cup to a cup.) and place this into the bottom of the tub under the shelf of brass pieces.Then snap the lid on tightly and check it every few hours to see if the brass is starting to darken.Once it is at the color you like, remove the tray(s) and let them air out for a while. The brass may continue to darken a little even after removal from the fuming tub. You may also see some inclusions of verdigris spots on the brass, which will add to the patina.You may buff the pieces with brass wool (like steel wool, only made of brass), or leave as is. SEALING: After antiquing and / or painting, the brass pieces must be sealed to prevent tarnishing. Either a spray or brush on sealer may be used. You may use any brand of water - based varnish or polyurethane, or spray lacquer from your local hardware store. Use a satin or gloss finish, depending on how you want your pieces to look. I have found the best way to spray items is to lay the pieces on a piece of newspaper in a large, low sided box. Change the newspaper between each coat of spray. Torching your metal also darkens it. Thats what I like to do, eliminates chemicals