The art of patination has captivated humankind for centuries; transforming ordinary copper, brass, bronze and other metals into mesmerizing works of art. Patination refers to the process of ageing or oxidizing metal surfaces, enhancing their visual appeal and creating a distinct aesthetic. In this blog, we will delve into the world of copper, brass, and bronze patination, exploring the techniques, history, and allure of 'patinas' captivating transformations.

You could say that patination is like a dance between nature and craftsmanship. Forced patination allows artists (such as ourselves) to harness time and create stunning, visual effects on metal surfaces that might otherwise take decades to form - LITERALLY! It took the Statue of Liberty about 20 years to change from copper and bronze to green. Patination is a careful balance of chemistry, technique, and creativity that results in the oxidation and transformation of these metals. The rich hues, intricate patterns, and unique textures that emerge from the patination process add depth, character, and a sense of history to the metal.

Copper patination is the realm in which Empire Copper was born. Cherished for its rustic charm and warm, earthy tones, copper, overtime develops a natural patina through exposure to the elements, which gives it a distinct greenish-blue (also known as verdigris) or, brownish-red colour. Makers all over the world have perfected various techniques to accelerate and control the patination process. From traditional methods like liver of sulphur and ammonium chloride, to modern chemical solutions, household ingredients or harnessing of the elements, copper patination offers a wide range of possibilities.

Brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, boasts its own unique beauty when patinated. The patination of brass often leans toward subtle golden hues, evoking a sense of timeless elegance. At Empire Copper, we achieve these effects through a combination of heat, solutions and sealants, carefully balancing the desired patina with the underlying brass colour. From the rich, dark tones of an antique finish to the golden glow of a polished patina, brass patination allows for a stunning array of possibilities.

Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, is known for its durability and aesthetic appeal. When patinated, bronze can be transformed into a wide range of colours, from warm browns to striking greens, depending on the techniques used and solutions employed. The patination of bronze can be achieved through a combination of heat, solutions, and wax applications, each contributing to the final result. Whether showcasing the verdigris (green hues) of ancient statues or the golden-brown hues of contemporary sculptures, bronze patination adds an exquisite touch to any artwork.

Whilst patinated metal surfaces offer breathtaking visual appeal, they also require proper care to preserve their beauty over time. Regular dusting and gentle cleaning with mild, non-abrasive solutions help maintain the patina's integrity. Additionally, this is why we apply a protective coating such as beeswax or lacquer, so that we can safeguard the surface of each piece and prolong the patina's lifespan. Adhering to these practices ensures that the patinated metal retains its allure for generations to come.

The art of copper, brass, and bronze patination is a testament to the skill and creativity of artisans throughout history. Through controlled oxidation and transformative techniques, these metals acquire a distinct personality and timeless beauty. Whether adorning sculptures, architectural elements, or decorative objects like our stunning clocks, the allure of patinated copper, brass or bronze, continues to captivate and inspire us, bridging the gap between the past and the present in a harmonious display of artistic ingenuity.

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- With Love, Cam & Beth

May 28, 2023 — Elizabeth Fleming

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