Monday, May 23, 2011

Green Copper- when it's a good thing

I spent the weekend out of town, so I didn't get too much done. I did, however, finish up some experiments with verdigris on copper.

Last week, it occurred to me that I had never done any sculpted wire in copper, so I did a few pieces (after remembering how to do it) and was thrilled with the look after using LOS. Even though I'm not too crazy about the style itself, the LOS gave it a whole new look and one I like a lot better than with the bright, shiny wire.

Post LOS
Not content to leave well enough alone and with a little nudge from Perri (Shaktipaj), I gave it a go with some verdigris. I had never done it before.

After treating the sculpted apatite piece with LOS, I rubbed it with steel wool, cleaned it, dipped it in salt water and suspended the piece over some sudsy ammonia in a closed container. I then placed it in a warm spot and very quickly began to see a green blue patina bloom on it.

Not knowing any better, I left the piece in too long, say about 4 hours, and found a thick crust of verdigris on it, almost the color of the apatite.

Some of the green blue patina flaked off where it was thickest. That was the easy part. It seems the verdigris is actually hard to rub off with steel wool. At least, it is on the pattern wire, which this piece was made off. The pattern gave the verdigris something to "bite" into, and was tough to get off.

The pictures show 2 stages of removal. The first wasn't very natural looking and, as Perri pointed out, the color of the wire now closely resembled the color from the stone which detracted from the contrast with the setting. As a result the wire and stone blended in together. So, back to the steel wool and even a Scotchbrite pad to get more of the green off.

First round of removal

Final result

Next time, I will keep notes!


  1. Tela, What a fascinating science experimant. I have not ventured past LOS. This tempts me to try the ammonia but I am guessing not for four hours! So you suspend in regular ammonia in a closed container in the sun? It does give a very cool look.

  2. Yes, this was real easy! Make some very salt water, dip the piece, with or without LOS, into the water and pat dry. I use a plastic cup with a lid. I poked a hole in the lid and put in a wire hook and taped it over. Then I just hung the piece over some ammonia with the lid on. It's the fumes that do the work. I put my cup over my pilot light on the stove, but the sun would do. Check after an hour or so. It will look dark because it is wet. As it dries the color becomes more obvious. That was my experience, anyway. I have another in the tumbler, now.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.