Though many of us are not strangers to the idea of applying patina with a torch or Liver of Sulfur---or even applying colored enamel 'with fire' over brass and copper--we may not have completely explored the mixed media options open to us on today's market. In the photo above are represented what I feel are the three current leaders: Swellegant, Gilder's Paste, and the Vintaj-branded designer inks made by Ranger.
I've got to tell you, I could write a book on this subject, because there's a lot to say. Being as how a blog post isn't meant to be a book, let me attempt to break the differences down to basics and then offer you further blog posts and some You Tube videos I've made about these media....the best I can do in a nutshell.
So let's get right to it!
1. GILDER'S PASTE
Some time ago, I wanted something to add a metallic sheen to my polymer clay beads; previously I'd always used Rub and Buff. A creative friend suggested I try Gilder's; few people knew about it yet and fewer still were carrying it. A couple of conversations with the owner of the company sold me, and soon I was up and running with this new product.
At first glance you might think, hmmm, that can looks like shoe polish. Well, it IS rather like the consistency of shoe polish....shoe polish on STEROIDS. The color is saturated and rich, rather dense. You can add a little paint thinner to a bit of it and actually make a paste or a paint (the best way to colorize filigree, with a sponge or a brush), or you can use it straight out of the can. No heat is involved to apply it, and it dries in about 20 minutes. You do need to seal it; I recommend Krylon Matte Spray Lacquer---and I would wait a day to seal it.
I have also had success with Diamond Glaze and ICE resin over fully cured Gilder's Paste. I would not use Renwax; it will probably remove it. If you'd like to try something else as a sealant, experiment. We all know that some sealants work with some products and others, not. To avoid disappointment, try it on scraps and see what happens.
And hey.....if you find something you like, besides the above mentioned, why not let us know?
A few more quick tips about Gilder's: You gotta close that can and seal it tight when you are done using it. And yes, it can even dry out in a sealed can! If it does, all is not lost. Simply soak the cake in a bit (NOT a lot) of paint thinner, and then break it up, mush it up, knife it in. You're basically just reconstituting it. It may never have the exact consistency it originally did, but you WILL be able to use it.
I find that colors tend to dry out a bunch faster than metallics. I also found in time that it truly wasn't necessary to buy all of the colors or handle all of the colors on my website. For me, the essentials are:
Pinotage ( a winey brown)
Gilder's mixes very nicely, so I found that I could get nuance of color with the above essentials. I saw no need to have red, yellow, blues, violets in Gilder's Paste, because truth be told, I was in it for the rich metallic, organic, natural looks....pastels and pretty colors can easily be achieved on metals with other product or even simple acrylic paints.
For me, it's about putting your money into mixed media product that gets you the best bang for your buck. I'm totally into Gilder's Paste, but I stay with my essentials nowadays; in fact, I'm never without them.
Here are a few videos I made when I was starting out with the product that you may find informative....or, amusing, as the case may be:
Sheesh, when DID Swell hit the market? It's all a blur now. I was on Christi Friesen's website and saw the product late last winter. I quickly recognized that it was a form of Sculpt Nouveau broken down into small, easy to use sizes. It had all been worked out so that even a novice could feel confident using traditional patina products that have, in the past, proved daunting to understand. Many, myself included, have stayed away because some patina solutions are extremely noxious and toxic. Sculpt Nouveau is a broad line. I was thrilled that someone had taken the guesswork out of it, did the legal re-packaging (which is extremely important to me as a vendor), and now, had the product ready for the public to learn about in an appropriate way.
When I contacted Christi, she had just come back from Tucson where she had debuted the line to overwhelming response. We went back and forth on the rudiments and I started making the videos as soon as I learned how to use it.
While there is a slight learning curve in using Swellegant, it is not a big one. The line comes in three forms: Metal Coatings, Traditional Patinas and Dye Oxides. Metal Coatings are paint that actually contains metal with a resin binder. When you place them over, let's say, resin, you can then apply the Traditional Patinas and they will change color, just as if you 'd put them over metal itself. The Traditional Patinas in the Swellegant line are Darkening, Tiffany, and Gold-Green. Tiffany and Gold-Green take longer to 'bloom'. Darkening is almost immediate if you use it with heat.
Dye oxides are just that: dyes. They colorize metal by means of a dye that interacts with the metal. I have found that you really need heat for them to be effective, but brilliant results can be achieved.
Swellegant is NOT a non-toxic line but the toxicity is very low. You should wear gloves when you use it, and you should open the bottles AWAY from your face as they may 'burp'. All bottles should be shaken first, especially the Metal Coatings. Swellegant works on brass and copper best; I have found that it also works nicely on our Rusty Black patina findings, which are made with an iron-based paint.
This is a necklace that I patina'd with Swellegant over Rusty Black:
You can use this product over metal, plastic, wood, foam, paper, polymer clay....so long as the metal coating goes down first, the patina will indeed bloom. Over raw brass and copper, no metal coating is necessary. You will not want to use it on sterling.
SEALING: there is an excellent sealant in this line that is low-cost and goes a long way. All of the Swellegant products should be lightly sponged on to your metal or other media, rather than brushed, and applied in a moist environment. You can even mist patinas to make them bloom, bloom, bloom.
I also like to use Krylon Matte Spray Lacquer to seal when it is cured, about two days.
My faves are the Brass, Bronze and Copper metal coatings, and all of the patinas. I'm not personally big into the dye oxides, but note the tutorial below where chain has been beautifully colorized with this product. I carry many of the dye oxides at B'sue Boutiques, all of the metal coatings except Pewter, and all of the Traditional Patinas. You can also buy them from Christi Friesen at her website.
Swellegant is inexpensive and does not have a strong odor. The dye oxides will color YOU, so those gloves are important. The Traditional Patinas have a slight vinegar smell and can cause a skin rash on fair skin, so again, get those gloves on.
In fact, get those gloves on and try it out! Here are some more videos and links to help you learn more:
Tutorials from the B'sue Boutiques website:
There are more tutorials here: http://www.bsueboutiques.com/project_ideas.shtml
3. Vintaj Designer Patina Inks by Ranger
These designer inks are a wonderful way to get pretty color onto brass FAST....pretty much what I'd call an 'instant gratification' product.
They come in sets of three complementary colors as well as sets of two metallics:
Weathered Copper (my personal fave)
Ancient Coin (metallics)
Pretty much all you need to do is apply them to your metal with a little sponge, in a dabbing motion. Brush strokes are not the way to go.
I like to heat set them as soon as they are applied with a heat embossing gun. It's my opinion that the little Ranger Heat It tool shown in the company's videos is just not as effective as the very hot heat tool we carry at B'sue Boutiques, though it will work. Our heat tool works really fast and the only thing hotter is your torch.
Once set and cooled, you can distress the inks. They really work well over embossed metal. Distress with a bit of very fine steel wool or a simple nail block you buy at the Dollar Store. Sometimes I even use a nail file!
Here is a pair of earrings I made using the Embossing Folders and these inks:
The Vintaj/Ranger inks line has a sealant that works very nicely over this product, but more likely as not I'll use Swellegant Clear Sealant or Krylon Matte Acrylic Spray Lacquer. The look on my earrings was achieved by distressing.
To grey down the colors in the line, you will want to be sure to pick up the Retro Highway set, which has black in it. By using the black you can 'antique' it down if the colors pop too loud for you.
The inks remind me very much of Dr. PH Martin's metal paint, both in use and consistency as well as look. I made this piece with PH Martin's and for all the world, it could be this new product. The look, feel, and durability (which is excellent) is much the same:
The brass and chain is from B'sue Boutiques The brass on these pieces was patina'd by my vinegar-salt-oven bake method. That's another blog post, I think!
Dr. PH Martin's, as well as the Vintaj/Ranger line, have a slight enamel-like feel to them. They are unbelievably durable. The PH Martin's piece above is not even sealed, there really was no need. You might get away with not sealing the Vintaj inks, too....but you might as well seal them. It can never hurt.
The Vintaj inks mix very well but the rub is that they also interact nicely with both Gilder's Paste AND Swellegant, especially Swellegant.
Here is a video:
And here is a piece I recently made for the Leaves and Berries Challenge here at AW that has used ALL THREE MEDIA to achieve the pretty patina:
For this piece I began with RAW brass and applied the Tiffany Green Swellegant directly to heated brass. It bloomed to the level that suited me in about 30-40 minutes. To stop the bloom of traditional patinas, remember, you have to douse the piece in water. Don't rub hard to dry, dry it with a heat gun.
After I did that, I evened out the color w a little bit of Patina Gilder's made into a paint with paint thinner, and I also added a little white over that when it dried. At the end I brought it up a notch with some of the Vintaj metallics, and eventually sealed with spray lacquer (before I added the caged pearls and little chatons set in brass).
In my opinion, all three of these lines have great merit, and belong in every workshop! I hope you enjoyed this blog tutorial and links. The main thing is to just PLAY and EXPERIMENT. You will have SUCH a great time!
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