So yesterday, I cut and smoothed bracelet bars from brass sheet and annealed them to soften for embossing.
I now use either my BigKick scrapbook machine or my Durston rolling mill to emboss some designs into the softened metal.
I’ve shown a before and after annealing of 2 of the bars. One is okay but not very detailed. The annealed brass has a deeper design, and notice the metal has taken on a warm pinkish color. From what I’ve read, brass is composed of copper and zinc, so the heating brings out the warm coppery tones of the metal.I then scrub the fire scale from the pieces using a green scrubby and PennyBrite. It’s hard on your hands, and will etch your sink, so carefully clean immediately. I even keep some baking soda handy for neutralizing the acidic properties of the PennyBrite. In fact, rather than use my sink I will put water in a bowl to scrub them and then use the sink for final rinsing.
I’m a weirdo about my sinks and even buff my chrome and wipe the sink dry EVERY time I wash my hands…which is a lot. Karen and Teri laugh at me, but I never have to scrub a sink and they look exactly like they did the day I moved in to my house..lol…but I digress.
Back to the brass bracelet bars.
Once you have scrubbed them well (you are removing not only the fire scale made from annealing, but the oil from your fingers.). You are preparing the metal to accept patinas and coloring. Some patinas alter the surface of the metal…like you have a green color on a metal faucet in your garden, it’s been nature patinaed..or some color like alcohol inks. Either way, you want the metal clean. I am off to get my bowl of water, scrubby and PennyBrite.
I’m also going to clean half the batch with a homemade ‘pickle’ which is an acidic solution used to clean the firescale from the metal. I’m going to use:
1 cup white household vinegar (heat in the tiny crockpot (I have one I use ONLY for pickle) or glass bowl (never plastic or metal ’cause it may eat them away). Always use copper tongs to avoid contaminating the pickle with other metals that could adhere to the brass (or other metal you may be playing with) and won’t be able come off.
When heated I’m going to add 1 heaping tablespoon of Table Salt.
Mix thoroughly; and then I’m going to add the metal connectors and let them soak for about 5 minutes.
Here are connectors before and after the pickle soak (sorry, the left photo is blurry:
Left connector is pickled and the right one is scrubbed with PennyBrite and scrubby, pictured so you can see the difference. I like the little firescale left on the PennyBrite ones because I like the ‘grunge look.’ You’ll see the difference when color is applied
In the next blog post, I’m going to do the fun part…adding color to the metal. See you next week.