Copper Patina Garden Gate #7: Pop the Copper

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Blog entry by newTim posted 06-10-2009 08:41 PM 13450 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Dryfit & teaser Part 7 of Copper Patina Garden Gate series Part 8: Bent Laminated Stays »

Here’s my first attempt at the hot patina process. All but one of the chemicals arrived from ArtChemicals, the Cupric Nitrate being on back order. I decided I couldn’t wait and pressed on anyway. I printed labels so I could keep better track of the chemical blends and colors each was supposed to produce. I learned two things right away. The first is this is a complicated process. The second is you really can’t mess it up. I used the method demonstrated by David Marks on his Woodworks show WWK-607.

I started by sanding both sides of the panel with a random orbit sander and 220 grit. I then cleaned the panel with dishsoap and hot water and dried it.

My plan was to lay down a background blend of Traditional Japanese Brown and the orange/brown mixture of Ferric Nitrate/Ferric Chloride, then apply some layers of a Light Green and Traditional Blue patinas. The basic method is to heat the metal to about 220 degrees or the point where water steams when sprayed on, spray on the chemicals, then flame that area. This being a first effort I overheated some areas while underheating others. I also over-flamed some and under-flamed others. Some of the chemicals produce a different color than expected.

You may notice the picture above has a lot of blue and reds and some yellow spots. This was done by design and I was happy with this result. However, the vendor advised me to apply a coat of fine wax (Renaissance) which, unfortunatley, changed the color of the yellow and muted the others. I viewed a video on their website where the demonstrator advised not to wax green or blue patinas, rather to let it cool and apply Permalac laquer. I could not tell from the David Marks DIY page whether I should spray the final coat with water to stop the reaction. He had mentioned spraying off the panel between applications of chemicals, but I am still not clear about this.

In any event, the chemicals continued to react and the panel is much more green than these photos, although it still looks good. I will post more pictures in a later blog, but here are some to give you an idea of the result.

-- tim hill

6 comments so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3607 days

#1 posted 06-10-2009 09:17 PM

Wow that’s so nice. Funny I am contenplating making (as my next project after the Charles Rohlfs chair) an oak or similar arts and crafts lamp for my daughter in law.I intend to incorporate copper into the wooden framed shade it will look neat. Thanks for the tips Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3370 days

#2 posted 06-10-2009 09:35 PM

No test samples for you, eh? Looks good.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 3828 days

#3 posted 06-10-2009 09:54 PM


Great blog and great project so far! The copper patina is wild. I like how you are just going for it and experimenting as you go. Cannot wait to see the finished product.

View a1Jim's profile


117113 posts in 3599 days

#4 posted 06-10-2009 10:02 PM

David will be proud of this great job.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View newTim's profile


608 posts in 3628 days

#5 posted 06-11-2009 02:24 AM

Nothing like hearing back from my peers, or in this case my betters. Re test samples. Yeah, that probably is the way to go. Just not my way. ;) I don’t think I’m patient enough. And the more I thought about it the more I thought about it. Then I just decided to go for it. Like I said, you can’t really mess up.

Thanks again. Stay tuned.

-- tim hill

View newTim's profile


608 posts in 3628 days

#6 posted 06-11-2009 02:48 AM

Oh yeah, Scotsman, I meant to also say that there are four ways you can do the lamp. Three cold and one hot. The three cold patina options would be to use a solid metal, metal leaf, or metalic paint to cover the lamp then apply patinas that are made for cold application. David Marks demonstrated these on various projects on his DIY pages. Generally the cold application takes some time to ‘cook’. For example, on one of his benches he wrapped the legs in sawdust and let them sit for three weeks. In his classes he uses gold, brass, or copper leaf. I think he just lets the project sit in the sun for awhile, but I don’t know. There’s a video of his class available on the ArtChemicals webpage.

The fourth or hot technique would be to use a thicker metal sheet or plate, apply a hot patina, then laminate the sheet to a base material like plywood. Lots of info available on the ArtChemicals and Sculpt Nouvau website. It does get confusing, but I guess if you watch and read enough it begins to make sense. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out and please share what you learn.

-- tim hill

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