July 21, 2005
I get that alot....brass ox, what's that?
It all starts with raw brass. I like to carry raw brass stampings on my website and at Ebay, because you can do alot of neat stuff with a raw stamping. You can run it up under a buffer with different shades of polish to get a really cool vintage look with highlights in the high points. You can colorize it with products like the paint pens I carry on my website, or Color Magic, which is a liquid that lets the integrity of the metal come through.
There are also Pebeo enamels which you can cure in a toaster oven and dry hard as glass---some Pebeo finishes also work well over plated product. Some customers have told me they work exceedingly well over our gold ox finish.
Others say they like to use acrylic washes over our raw brass products, and seal the color with resin such as Envirotex.
You can also do funky home finishes with certain acids or liver of sulphur. I was recently reading that rolling tobacco, ammonia and vinegar will turn brass awesome pitted blue shades if placed in a sealed container for several days. I haven't tried it....if you do...be careful. I'm not sure about ammonia and vinegar together, so do it outside.
The thing is, raw brass, while lovely on its own, will turn....in time it will become patina brass, or if there is alot of red in the brass, gingerbread. If you hear me refer to gingerbread brass, it means brass that has aged for many years and has the red alloy. It's really quite wonderful stuff, actually, but you need to clean it a little bit and maybe seal it. It's not for people who have severe metal allergies.
Raw brass, whether new or patina is unfinished brass, however, and most people like a finished product. That's where brass ox comes in.
Do you see the brownish even color on these brass stampings? Brass ox is the plating shade we chose to finish them. It is a lovely antique brass color, very even, and looks old. SO, it's brass....ox. OX is short for oxidized, to look old or antique.
It's really one of our most popular finishes!
Other shades we plate are silver semi ox, which looks like old patina sterling; pewter ox which has the color of old potmetal; gunmetal which is a glossy hematite-black; copper ox which is a rusty, ruddy old copper color; silverplate and goldplate, which kind of explain themselves, and gold ox, which is a rich, warm antique gold. We lacquer everything but brass ox and pewter ox, which don't need it and look better without it.
The plating is not done here. When I hire to have the stampings made, the tool and die house sends it in a batch to my plater who then decides whether to handplate the items (he handplates cuff findings and shepherd hook bookmark findings, for example) or vat plate them, which are done by the pound in bulk. Plating is very serious business; the compounds used to commercially plate brass stampings can be lethal if not properly used so they must be done only by the most experienced jewellers and platers.
I do not sell acids and chemicals to make the funky home finishes but an internet search will easily yield resources. If you have a steady atmospheric temperature in the home and follow the directions carefully, they will work nicely on raw brass for you. Many places that ship these acids will add a surcharge to your shipping for hazardous materials, so you should expect that.
A quick browse of the stampings on my website at http://www.bsueboutiques.com will handily acquait you with the plating finishes we use so that you will get to recognize them quickly.
My next entry will concern some of the really cool gingerbread patina pieces I've had in the past, beautiful things that aren't made any more. I'll have lots of pix to share....so stay tuned!