It's not necessary to pay for brass that has been chemically treated to look old.
Everyone loves this great, old look....I don't blame them. That's why I travel at least twice a year to find the real, old stuff.
I'll be honest, however, the good old stuff is getting harder and harder to find.
If you love that old look you can do it at home, you don't need to pay someone else to do it for you, it is very simple. There is nothing hard about it and nothing unique that you cannot do.
AND.....There are actually a number of ways you can do it.
My fave non-toxic method is shown below. You degrease the raw brass by a bath in hot, soapy water. RINSE WELL, and dry. Get a large glass baking pan and submerge the brass in four parts dark vinegar to one part sea salt. Regular table salt works fine, too.
Let it set for about an hour, then bake in a 450 degree oven for twenty minutes. If by then it looks nice and toasty-dark, take it out and let it cool. If not, let it bake a little longer....ovens will vary.
This is how the brass will look after an hour soak in the vinegar-salt solution and about 20 min. in the 450-500 degree oven.
Isn't it pretty?
Do you like the look of verdigris? Take the hot brass and dunk it thoroughly again in the vinegar-salt bath. Let it air dry. I've achieved amazing results on hot baked brass filigree.
TO KEEP THE LOOK: The piece MUST BE SEALED. I like a matte clear varnish, the stuff in a can that you get from the hardware store. You have to seal it FRONT AND BACK. This step, of course, must be done with adequate ventilation, so do it in a spray tent or outside, or use a respirator.