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Homemade patina recipes?


I am interested in using typical household products to making my Patinas, instead of buying chemicals.

Joe Troup
hobbyist - Apple Valley, California, USA


When you say "typical household products" I assume you mean fruit juices and generic chemicals like vinegar and bleach and ammonia? I'd avoid proprietary household cleaners: the problem is you won't know what is in them or why, and they can change at any time the manufacturer decides.

Can you start us off with a patina that you have discovered so we can get the flavor of what you're talking about? What color does it generate and what metal does it work on? Thanks!

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Hi Joe

I work with copper and use salt, vinegar and cloudy ammonia to produce different patinas. You can spray your item with vinegar, sprinkle it with salt and put it in a sealed container with a dish of cloudy ammonia overnight. Next day, rinse the salt mixture off, allow to dry and you should have a blue patina on a dark background. I also bury pieces in sawdust dampened with vinegar, this gives an interesting effect but less colourful. Tim McCreight's book "The Complete Metalsmith" has some other patina recipes using common ingredients.

Best of luck!

Liz Turnbull
- Denmark, Western Australia

January 26, 2009

I gave a bronze sculpture to one of my children which I sculped years ago of Don Quixote. Somehow the sword he holds in his raised right hand was broken off and my son wants to replace it. He has some good ideas as to forming the sword out of a strip of copper, and re-attaching it. He wants to make the sword with the same color like the rest of the bronze. He asked me what the patina was. I told him that my best recollection it was Liver Of Sulphur [linked by editor to product info at Mister Art] but I do not want him to get involved using that stuff.
Is there any household stuff he could use?
Thank you,

John Daunt
Sculptor - Pasadena California

January , 2009

Hi, John. These days you can buy liver of sulphur as a reasonably dilute liquid, and it is possible that it may have less baggage than the stuff you remember. But it may also be possible to use crushed hard boiled eggs as a source of sulphur dioxide, although obviously the reaction with metal is far less controlled.

If you type "blacken copper" into our search engine you will see a dozen or more threads on ways to darken copper. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Liver of Sulphur

Liver Of Sulphur 4 oz. bottle

October 9, 2011

OK. I'm giving up a trade secret but here goes. This is for copper or alloy plate. Do this outside as it emits chloramine. After cleaning your copper or copper alloy, immerse in household bleach with no dilution for 4+ hours. There are many variations at this point. With about 1/4 inch of bleach above the piece drop a few milliliters of one or all of the following solutions directly above various locations on the plate: nitric acid (try different concentrations but 20% works well), citric acid (1 gram/10 ml water), ferric chloride, 20%, phosphoric acid (use the degreaser from auto parts stores 100%. Any acidic solution of pH 3 or lower will work. Vinegar or lemon juice works. Let sit for 1 hour and remove piece and rinse gently with cool water. Remove any thick blue precipitate buildup by shaking in a tray. If this doesn't remove the buildup, try spraying with water. Allow to dry but don't expose to sun. Produces nice outerspace effects. Spray with lacquer after a day or so. Glossy is my preference.

Kamel Elzalaki
- Grass Valley California USA
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