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topic 5203

Basic Bronze Patina (with shoe polish)

A discussion started in 2000 but continuing through 2018


Q. I am a self taught artist and (yes I will buy the book...) and am trying to recreate some finishes on some very small sculptures that I had a foundry is a very basic traditional medium brown patina, they told me they used Liver of Sulphur [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and shoe polish, but the liver of sulfur is only making my bronze dark in the cracks, and the shoe polish (kiwi paste if it matters) isn't seeming to do much of anything. it is just shiny brass looking...what am I doing wrong? I also tried peanut oil but that doesn't seem to be doing much either. I would prefer something as little toxic as possible. THANKS

Anne R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Los Angeles, California


A. In using Liver of Sulphur either your work piece or the solution needs to be warm, otherwise you will get very little affect. With peanut oil you brush it on and use a soft torch flame to get the color.

Jim Waggener
- Cobbs Creek, Virginia


A. When visiting a foundry where I had castings done, I watched as the man applied shoe polish to patina my piece. He used the liquid polish with a dauber, not paste.

Susan Honiker
- Andalusia, Alabama

"Patinas for Silicon Bronze"
by Patrick V. Kipper

from Abe Books
info on Amazon


I have learned that liver of sulphur is best applied cold, otherwise it may become splotchy. You must keep applying with a spray bottle until the piece turns grey or black. Then rinse with water, this completes an undercoat. Now you are ready to heat the piece to about 250* and apply other patina chemicals. a very good book is Patinas for Silicon Bronze by Patrick V. Kipper.

Susan Honiker
- Andalusia, Alabama


Susan Honiker, those are excellent tips and I agree that the book itself is excellent. What other types of sculpture do you do?

Thank you

Alfred H Bradey
- Chicago, Illinois

August 2, 2018

Q. I am interested in Susan Honiker's comment on using shoe polish on bronze jewellery. Did the shoe polish colour last? I am thinking of using black Kiwi on a bronze bangle and finishing it with a sealant. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you, Mairi

Mairi Ward
- Kilmarnock, Scotland.

(2007) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. My husband and I are restoring a 1910 bungalow. The door hardware knobs and hinges are copper that mostly have tarnished over the years to a wonderful dark brown, looking a lot like the oil rubbed bronze finish that is so popular today. There are a few knobs and hinges that have been painted and I want to strip them and find a method of rapid aging them to match the dark finish on the majority. Any help would be most appreciated.

Lee Hoffman
home restorer - Easton, Maryland

March 25, 2009

Q. I have a bronze piece that I cast (silica bronze). I had to braze a few of my cast pieces together and though the brazing rod SAID it was bronze it is a much more brassy color AND does not take patinas like Liver of Sulfur or anything the same as the cast bronze! has anyone run into this problem before? any suggestions on how to patina this "bronze" brazing rod?

Melissa Bixby
graduate sculpture student - Moscow, Idaho

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