Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

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Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:28 pm

I just had a massive "OOPS" moment. Earlier this year I ordered a sun buckle from Simon "Button It" Newton and I am really happy with the design of it. When it arrived brand new in the mail it looked like this:



I decided I wanted the sun bursts and edge of the buckle to stand out a bit more, so I took a wire brush to it to take off some of the dark patina. Problem was a got a little too carried away with the brush and ended up making the whole thing look a bit too shiny and new.



So a couple of days ago I was perusing the forums and saw how someone had given their buckle a nice dull verdigris using ammonia fumes. I did a Google search and an article I read said to suspend the item over ammonia in a closed can or jar to let the fumes add patina, then leave it in the sun to dry. But it said this required straight, or clear ammonia, and what I have at home had a yellow tint and a lemon fragrance. For this type of ammonia it said to soak the object with some pennies. So that's what I did. Only instead of getting darker the buckle got lighter! After letting it soak for a day I sat it out in the sun to dry, and now it has an awesome verdigris but all the dark patina is gone and the buckle is about 5 shades lighter than it should be.



Any ideas on how I can darken it back up? Luckily Simon's buckles are fairly inexpensive so i can easily replace it if need be (provided he still has them in stock), but if there is a way for me to simply correct my mistake on this buckle that is what I would like to do. From the looks of things it would have came out perfectly if I had only soaked it in the ammonia for about an hour and then left it in the sun, but I soaked it for a day which ate all the dark patina away. Like all things we learn by experimentation, and I certainly learned something here. Now I just need a way to get the buckle back to a darker color. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Mojo Turbo on Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:03 pm

i'd just rattle can it

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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:26 pm

That's what I was afraid of. I've got a spray paint that might work well, just hoping there might be another option before I go that route. Guess I need to check with Simon and see if he still carries the buckles. At least I learned something about aging these things.
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Bilge Rat on Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:01 pm

I'm surprised, All the brass I have aged in Ammonia got very dark. Must be because you soaked it in the ammonia. I would wash it really good with some dish soap, then rinse it really well and and dry it. Then suspend it above the Ammonia, it's the fumes that actually do all the work. I have used the lemon scented ammonia before and it will work, it just takes longer. You want to make sure you suspend it above the ammonia in an air tight container. I'd try it again, it can't hurt, if it does not work, get some dark acrylic paint in a bottle and dry brush it on, then rub off where you don't want the paint. Rattle can would be hard to get back off, but you can remove it with thinner.

I have had success by putting the brass object in the freezer for a few minutes to get it really cold. While it's " Freezing" take the ammonia in an airtight container and heat the bottom with a hair dryer to really warm up the ammonia, then suspend the cold buckle over the warmed ammonia, it speeds up the aging process for some reason.


Last edited by Bilge Rat on Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:08 pm

Thanks Bilge! I'll definitely give it a shot (can't do any more harm, right? lol). I suppose it's also possible that the buckle isn't solid brass and that might have been part of the problem. I read somewhere online that ammonia can remove the brass if it is just a thin plating. Anyway, can't hurt to try the suspension method. This is what I get for trying to take the lazier route. Haha!

I actually love the way the verdigris turned out, so if I can manage to get the buckle back to a darker color I think it is going to look bad booty!

Thanks again for the help, guys!
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:08 pm

Sometimes I can be the most incredibly patient person in the world. Other times, like now, I'm the most impatient person who was ever born.

Case in point, after Mojo suggested "rattle canning" it I took it outside and gave it a light coat of a paint I thought might work. An hour later it was dry and I took the wire brush to the edges and the sun bursts. This is the result. It's not bad, and if all else fails I think this, plus some darker acrylic paint, will get the job done.



Had I waited just a while longer I could have tried Bilge's method first. Oh well, I figure at this point I can't screw things up any worse so I'm back tracking and going to give Bilge's method a go. I let the buckle soak in paint thinner for a few minutes, then rubbed off what paint I could with a paper towel. Didn't get it all, but I'm not going to worry about this yet. I have it soaking in ammonia again right now with pennies again to see if maybe this will eat off some more of the paint. Once I get it back to a "plain" state again I'll go with the suspended ammonia fume method, heating the ammonia and chilling the buckle as Bilge suggested. We shall see what happens. Worse case scenario I'll go the acrylic paint route and make due and possibly buy another buckle later on. Best case scenario this buckle comes out looking awesome! Either way I've learned something.

Thanks again for the tips, Bilge Rat! I'll put them into action very soon and see what happens!

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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Bilge Rat on Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:21 pm

Here are a few other ways to that I have tried to " Tarnish and Age" Brass



To get a "natural" aged brown brass finish with vinegar and heat:
Pour some vinegar into a plastic container and add a tablespoon or two of salt.
Mix well.
Put your pieces in mixture and let them soak for at least a few minutes.
Remove the pieces and dry with paper towel.
Place them on a cookie sheet and put them into a 450 degree oven.
Monitor the change, which should occur in a few minutes.
Remove the pieces and let cool.

To get a verdigris (green) patina:
Soak your pieces in the solution for 1 hour.
Place them on a dark non-greased baking sheet and into a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Take the the hot brass pieces from the oven and place them into the vinegar solution.
Remove them from the solution in a few minutes or when the desired patina has been achieved.
Shake them off, carefully! Let air dry.
Use very fine steel wool to polish and create highlights.
Salt Water and/or Vinegar method

Use a brush to "paint" vinegar or a strong salt water solution (1 to 2 tablespoons or more salt per cup of warm water) on the surface which you desire to age. Let the piece air dry and repeat the process as many times as it takes to get the desired effect. You also may try immersing your piece in the salt water or vinegar solution and letting it soak. Cider vinegar or white vinegar will work; red wine vinegar, not so much.
A combination of vinegar and salt (a couple of tablespoons per cup vinegar) speeds up the process.
Using heat with vinegar gives a rapid result. This method will also RUST iron very fast! ( used it on the hilt of my sword)

Ammonia Vapor

One of the most used methods for aging brass uses the vapor of ammonia.
For small items, like frock coat buttons, use an ammonia-soaked wad of cotton or cloth in the bottom of a mason jar, then suspend the piece inside the jar lid and seal it up. The brass should change within 30 minutes.
For larger pieces, select a container (with a lid) that will hold your item.
Place a smaller container (preferably glass) inside the bottom of your large container, and fill the smaller container with a lot of ammonia.
Place the brass in the large container so it does not touch the ammonia (liquid ammonia will form spots on the brass). Better yet suspend the item directly above the ammonia.
Seal it tightly.
Monitor the piece hourly and change the liquid ammonia solution every day to maintain potency; ( if you really want to tarnish something) . I read that if you crumple aluminum foil into the ammonia it will speed the effect, but I have not tried this. My buttons aged within a few hours using this method.
Again you can try freezing the item and heating the ammonia, this will speed results for some reason.
Remove the brass when you are satisfied with the finished results! To neutralize the used ammonia add baking soda and water before disposing of it.
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:24 am

Before leaving the house earlier I put some ammonia in a large jar and suspended the buckle over it with fishing line, then screwed the lid on tight. I had chilled the buckle in the freezer for a few minutes before hand while warming the ammonia in the jar with a hair dryer just as you suggested earlier. I sat it aside and left for several hours. Just got home, and the buckle is already much darker than it was when I left! I'm going to leave it over night to darken more, but it is definitely making a difference. I think my buckle has been saved!

Thanks Bilge Rat! If for some reason this doesn't darken it back up as much as I'm hoping (luckily it looks like it will) I will attempt one of your other methods to help finish the process. I've definitely learned a lot because of this and will no doubt use these various methods on future projects. I really appreciate all your help, and I'll post a new photo once I'm done to show how it turned out. Thanks again!
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Button It on Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:32 pm

Basic chemistry says that the ammonia fumes should get it back to looking dark again eventually as it's down to the brass plating - I've never got *quite* that vigorous before with the brushing though, so I've never tried quite that much before.

I'm never too concerned about buckles looking too dull to start with - you'll find the wear and tear of wearing the costume will naturally rub up against it and make it shiny...er.

I still have buckles left in stock. The only thing I'm out of are the silversmith breeches buttons.
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:10 pm

After 24 hours it is already many times darker again, so the ammonia fumes treatment is working quite nicely. I'll be much more gentle with the wire brush when it's done this time around, though. Wink I'll post photos after I get the color back where I want it.

Simon: Glad to hear you have more buckles left. I want to get another one from you in the very near future to put on a regular belt I found for daily wear. I think it would look pretty sweet with a pair of jeans.



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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Bilge Rat on Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:36 pm

Glad to see that it is working! Patience and it will get really dark. I once forgot a button left hanging over ammonia for several days and it turned almost black.
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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Mojo Turbo on Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:16 pm

spray paint rules!

What a Face

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Re: Sun Buckle Weathering - Advice Needed!!!

Post  Captain McAnen on Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:59 am

So after days suspended over ammonia in a large jar the results are in. I let it sit in the sun all day today while I was gone, then brought it in and took a wire brush to it (lightly), rinsed it off, brushed it again, and then rinsed it a second time just to get all the lose patina off of it. Last I took just a dab of black acrylic paint with a tiny bit of taupe and pewter gray paint mixed in and put on a thin coat, immediately wiping it away with a paper towel. Here's how the buckle turned out.



I'm quite happy with it so I think I'll leave it alone now so no further harm befalls it. Very happy I was able to give it the right look again. Thanks for all the tips, guys!
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