I just bought myself the Vintaj edition BigShot from Sizzix – it’s a poor man’s rolling mill that you can use to emboss metal or cardstock or whatever. This version was specially made to use on metal and they make all kinds of these “folders” that have a design in them. You pop your metal in the folder, roll it through the machine, et viola, you have textured metal. They’re pretty cool. Now the folks at Vintaj say you’re only supposed to use their special, pre-cut, “Arte Metal” blanks in the machine, but I’ve been using it on my own sheet metal just fine. You do have to anneal and pickle anything 24 gauge or over and I’ve only used it on copper and brass so far.
Now one of the beauties of adding texture is, of course, getting to add even more depth and dimension with color. So while I’ve been playing with textured metal, I’ve also been playing around with patinas. I thought I’d show off a little bit of what I’ve been doing.
First off – traditional patinas. I bought a verdigris (green) ‘traditional’ patina from Shannon German (Miss Fickle Media on Etsy), along with her excellent “Color Drenched Metal” tutorial. So far I’ve tried it on copper and on bronze. It worked great on both metals.
These are textured, domed copper discs. I had to do two applications of the solution and wound up curing the metal inside a Ziploc bag after the second application, but I think that they bloomed really beautifully.
Next up was some bronze hammered Uncial hoops.
I also had to do two applications of patina solution on the bronze and used a Ziplock bag after the 2nd application. It took about 24 hours for them to bloom. I had given them a liver of sulfur bath before doing the verdigris application so that they’d be a little less shiny under there. I really liked the dual patina affect. Being able to tone down the patina a little bit is nice. I think there’s a Sculpt Nouveau product that actually does that but I haven’t tried it. My plan is to take these back down mostly to the bare metal before I seal them, so the patina is more subtle.
Next up, Vintaj patina inks. These are special inks that are formulated to adhere to metal. The bonus on these is you don’t have to wait for them to bloom. You paint them on, let them dry, heat set them and then use a sanding block to take off some of the patina on the high points of whatever you’ve been working on.
These inks are all about the instant gratification.
The Vintaj ink is very bright. I feel like it looks like actual paint, not a true patina. Which is fine, but not exactly what I was hoping for on these. I’ll be using the traditional patinas for the Uncial collection from now on.
These almost have a faux enamel look to them. Paired with the texture from an embossing folder, and with this particular style of earring, I feel like that look worked very well. I was quite pleased with the results and I’ll definitely be using the Vintaj patina inks for more stuff like this in the future.
Traditional verdigris patina – if you want something to look like actual aged metal, I think the traditional patinas are the best of these three options.
Pro: looks like natural, aged metal because it basically is – you’ve just accelerated a natural process. You wind up with GORGEOUS color.
Cons: Slightly toxic. Wear gloves when working with this solution and you do need to wear a mask when you are sanding the dry patina down to metal, as the dust is toxic. Do it outside. You also have to form, texture and work your metal completely before you apply, as the patina will flake off if you try bending things around after it has been colored. You have to wait about 24 hours for it to bloom, so patience is key. Also, because of the flaking issue, you need to seal this patina with something like Permalac.
Vintaj Patina Inks – various colors – will not give you a natural patina look, but can mimic enamel beautifully and you can get some fabulous painted affects if that is what you are going for.
Pros: Not very toxic. You probably still want to wear gloves, but this stuff isn’t going to give you a chemical burn and you can use it inside without a mask or getting all woozy from fumes. The folks at Vintaj say you don’t have to seal it OR heat set it, though they recommend it. I feel like you get better results if you do. Nearly instant gratification and rich, bright color! While you want to do your texturing before you paint this on your metal (I would not want to run it through my machine for fear of ruining the folder), it is still pretty forgiving and strong once it has set. You can do a little last minute forming afterwards, such as doming a flat piece if you decide you would like that better. The colors are totally blendable and the basic sets give you a really wide array of color options once you start mixing. Using their special glaze to give you a wash gives you even more awesome color power. These are not horribly expensive. I feel like you can really upscale the look of your base metal designs with these inks, without very much cost increase on the retail end. A little bit of the patina ink goes a long way, which gives you more bang for your buck.
Potential cons: the colors look (in my opinion) very obviously paint-like. Nobody is going to believe this is aged metal. From what I can tell, you can only buy these inks in pre-packaged sets of 3. Being able to replace individual colors as you use them up would be nice.
I’ll be playing around with color and texture a lot more in my studio over the coming weeks, both over metal and polymer clay. So look for more posts about all that. This has been a really fun experiment and will be ongoing!