Feel the Burn

I definitely did, whilst I was busy weaving the second seat on my Møller chairs, I was regularly popping over to check on the progress of my patina experiment. I’ve been in the process of making several pairs of earrings and I wanted to see what kind of finish I could achieve on them using a basic “at home” patina technique. This involves ammonia, salt, a closed container, and some patience. You can Google patina tutorials and find all sorts of suggestions. I chose to start with the most basic option, where you set kitchen paper towels into the bottom of a container and douse it with ammonia. Sprinkle ample salt onto the top of the wet paper, place your metal object on top of that, place a new sheet of paper on top, and douse again. Peel back the paper, and sprinkle more salt onto the metal. It should be wet and thus the salt will stay put!

The reason you need to be patient, is because the time it takes for your “desired”patina to arrive can vary from 1 hour to 24 hours, or more actually. I set about checking mine every couple of hours during weaving breaks. The reason for the burn reference is this: if you have any open wounds, torn cuticles, or cuts and you hold that part of your body over the fumes of ammonia, it really hurts!! So even though I wasn’t touching my sore fingers to the liquid itself, just examining my pieces caused discomfort. It’s the only “burn”I’m feeling these days, by the way. (not to get into politics!)

Let’s take a small detour…

Why am I attracted to patinas? (not that anyone is asking) Because I enjoy the surprise aspect; every time you check your container it’s like opening a gift. Patina has a mind of its own. It’s simply not possible to guarantee that any two items will achieve the same result. I could set 3 pairs of earrings in the same container and each one will come out unique, thus one of a kind, and that makes them special. Also, patina jewelry is very personal in that it either speaks to you or it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a certain patina that will attract the eye of someone, and not another. There’s a scientific element to creating patinas. Basically you’re back in chemistry and you’re combining elements that create a chemical effect. In this specific case, the use of ammonia (NH3) and salt (NaCl) has resulted in an altered appearance of a naturally occurring base metal – so it’s natural, and the earth’s capabilities inspire me.

Did you know that copper is pure and was the earliest metal to be used by humans? It was the first metal to be cast in a mold, and was later used in conjunction with tin to create bronze. Brass is also a child of copper which is made by mixing it together with zinc. Most of the metals used in jewelry are indeed minerals and pure metals which are harvested from our planet. Despite the fact that gold and silver are the most coveted and expensive, silver and brass should not be overlooked!

I am extremely happy with how these turned out.