Tip #1 - Brass Patina

Tips from The Eclectic Angler's monthly Newsletter.

Tip #1 - Brass Patina

Postby TheEclecticAngler » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:05 am

From the October, 2010 Newsletter

Our first tip this month addresses aging brass to give it a deep, rich patina.

Tip #1 - Brass Patina
Brightly polished brass fly reels are beautiful to admire but their sparkling reflections may spook fish out on the stream. Here are a few ways to cut down the shine with an attractive patina.
  1. Ammonia Fumes - This is a very simple and relatively safe technique that has been used for centuries. Fumes from common household ammonia (don't breath the fumes) reacts with brass to produce a golden amber color. Longer treatments with ammonia create rich verdigris (blue green) accents. The patina is easy to do. First, you need to thoroughly clean the reel to remove fingerprints, dirt and other oily residue. I usually do a quick polish with BlueMagic and then wash in warm tap water with a little dishwashing detergent. Rinse and blot dry with paper towels. Do not handle the cleaned reel with your bare hands. Once the reel is clean and dry, put it in a plastic container - an old CoolWhip container is perfect for this. Fill a soda bottle cap (a plastic cap from a 2 liter bottle works great) half way with household ammonia and carefully place it in the container with the reel. Do not spill any on the reel. Snap the cover on and place the container in a warm place where it will be undisturbed overnight. Check the reel the next morning. It should start to have a honey colored patina. If you want a darker color, reseal the lid and let sit for another day or two. The longer the reel fumes, the darker the brass becomes and verdigris begin to develop. When the reel is the color you want, wash it gently and blot dry.
  2. Vinegar Fumes - Fuming vinegar is another similar technique that provides a slightly browner patina. It is done the same way as the Ammonia Fume patina described above, simply substitute the ammonia with common white vinegar.
  3. Bluing Solutions - gunsmiths use special "bluing" chemicals to impart blue, brown and black colors to steel and brass. Birchwood Casey Brass Black imparts a rich black patina to brass. You can find it at gun shops or on the internet.
There are many books and sources of information on the internet for brass patina recipes. Almost every color in the rainbow is possible. I've been experimenting with some of these and will report in future newsletters.
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