Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The butterfly: patina on silverplate

This silver-plated butterfly component was buried in the same baker's ammonia-and-sawdust mixture as the bronze tags. Like the tag in the bottom right corner, it got a cobalt blue patina. Fearing it'd bleed just like the first tags, I let it dry on the window sill.

Turns out that dark blue doesn't only wash out if the patina is still moist (but not if dry it seems): it dissappears in sunlight too (or air, but the blue tag is still blue and I didn't seal it until today), turning into turquoise blue. You can still see some patches of darker blue, but it's now mainly a dusty turquoise. I also brushed it a bit with a tooth brush to see how durable the crusty patina was. There was dust and some of the plate shows through, but most of it still stuck to the metal.

I  tried to use the vinegar patina on plated components but it didn't take, at least not as fast as the ammonia mixture. Maybe the pieces where made using different plating metals or sealants, maybe the ammonia just works better on plating. Now the pieces from the vinegar jar are in the ammonia jar so we'll see if that works on them. (And the butterfly is in the vinegar and sawdust just because I want to and I already have ammonia turquoise tags so why a butterfly too in a colour I just like sometimes?)

Footnote: I say silverplated and believe it was describes as that, but it could also be white plate or rhodium plate. I'm not sure. Same goes for the two pieces I tested the vinegar-soaked sawdust on.


  1. That turned out very pretty.. I love all the delicate shades...even if there was no darker blue remaining.

    1. Thanks! I actually put it back in the jar and right now it's got some bluer shades. Just not sure if it'll last. But on the other hand, I do much of these patina experiments just for the fun of it, not because I want it to last forever so either way I'm rather pleased with the result.

  2. Looks like you are having great fun with your patina experiments. I think the butterfly turned out wonderfully. Very pretty color.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it's super fun! Even the flops as you always can add another patina instead. There's always something that works. Just the other day, I added alcohol ink to a bleek ammonia patina just to get more colour, for example.


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