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Tips and Tools

Tips & Tools On Raw Brass


All of our charms are LEAD AND NICKEL FREE made in the U.S.A. and made from solid brass sheet stock


WASHING INSTRUCTIONS FOR RAW BRASS ITEMS:

Wash the brass charms & other brass items in a solution of dish detergent and warm water to eliminate oil residue from the manufacturing process. An old toothbrush works great for scrubbing the charms. Rinse thoroughly in warm water. Dry the charms immediately to prevent water spots. If you are making large quantities of jewelry, you might want to invest in a bullet casing cleaner. This is an electric vibrating machine filled with a cleaning media ( ground corncob or walnut shells), and brass polish. You can clean several hundred pieces in about 2 hours. The only drawback is that the media gets inside the puffed charms and is hard to get out. It is available from Midway ( see sources page for address & item number). Raw brass items that have spots or a dull finish can be cleaned with polish Hagerty 100 metal polish. This polish removes the most stubborn stains from brass, we have not found anything that works as well. It can be purchased online. After using the polish, wash the piece with dish detergent & water, then rinse and dry it with a towel (do not let it air dry, as water spots will form on it) before antiquing and painting it.

ANTIQUING:

Items may be antiqued with dark brown or black acrylic craft paint for
a traditional look. ( I use Deco-Art Soft Black) available through us on the Metallic Paint Page .) Coat the entire piece. with paint ( I do one side at a time, and if it is a large piece, I’ll do one half at a time ) and immediately wipe off the excess paint with a paper towel or soft rag, ( old tee-shirts work well ) leaving paint in the crevices. If it is too light , simply repeat the process. If it is too dark or you just don't like the way it looks, you can scrub the paint off with a toothbrush, and start over. For a different look, you can “ pickle” the brass pieces with white acrylic craft paint, or experiment on your own for a unique color effect.

PAINTING:

Items may be painted with acrylic, or metallic acrylic craft paints after antiquing them. I recommend putting one (1) coat of spray lacquer on the pieces (after antiquing them) before painting them. The paint seems to stick better .
Brass stampings may also be colored with alcohol inks (available at www.stampersanonymous.com)


AMMONIA FUMING:

HOW TO ACHIEVE AN AGED LOOK TO RAW BRASS using the AMMONIA FUMING method
THIS METHOD SHOULD ONLY BE DONE OUTSIDE OR IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA!!!!
 AMMONIA IS A HIGHLY TOXIC CHEMICAL!!!!
Please read the safety and hazard warnings on the ammonia bottle and follow them!!!
Materials needed:
FRESH ammonia (clear ammonia from the grocery store will work) IF THE AMMONIA ISN'T FRESH IT WON'T WORK

lg. plastic airtight container (tub)

small plastic container (NO LID), (like a margarine dish)

piece of plywood or cardboard

small blocks of wood to hold up plywood or cardboard
 
NOTE:
We have played with this process on a small scale, and have found that it works best with the heavier, more textured pieces, and filigree. It doesn't work well with the shinier, smoother brass. We suggest that you experiment with various pieces until you get the results you want.
DIRECTIONS:
Cut the plywood or cardboard so that it will lay flat in your plastic container (tub) leaving air space around the edges, and prop it up off the bottom of the container with the scrap blocks of wood. Lay out your brass pieces in a single layer right side up on the plywood or cardboard. ( If your tub is tall enough, you can do several "shelves", separating the shelves with blocks of wood.)Pour some ammonia into the small plastic container (the amount you will use will depend on the size of the tub you are using, a small tub the size of a shoebox, you just need a few tablespoons. If it is a large tub, you would need 1/2 cup to a cup.) and place this into the bottom of the tub under the shelf of brass pieces.Then snap the lid on tightly and check it every few hours to see if the brass is starting to darken.Once it is at the color you like, remove the tray(s) and let them air out for a while. The brass may continue to darken a little even after removal from the fuming tub. You may also see some inclusions of verdigris spots on the brass, which will add to the patina.You may buff the pieces with brass wool (like steel wool, only made of brass), or leave as is.


SEALING:

After antiquing and / or painting, the brass pieces must be sealed to prevent tarnishing. Either a spray or brush on sealer may be used. You may use any brand of water - based varnish or polyurethane, or spray lacquer from your local hardware store. Use a satin or gloss finish, depending on how you want your pieces to look. I have found the best way to spray items is to lay the pieces on a piece of newspaper in a large, low sided box. Change the newspaper between each coat of spray.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION :

The rings can be broken off many of the charms by bending it back and forth. On the heavier charms, the ring must be cut off with a pair of side cutters. This sometimes leaves a rough edge that must be filed off or ground off with a Dremel tool. The puffed charms can be taken apart by cutting off the ring and opening the charm up. I do this when I want to use a puffed charm on a collage pin. If a piece doesn’t have a ring on it, drill a hole in it with a Dremel or high speed rotary tool, or use a glue on drop loop tab. ( Available on findings page ). Embellish your projects with faux pearls and rhinestones. Add a little sparkle with powdered or liquid glitter. To use a powdered glitter, brush on a light coat of water based varnish and while it is still wet, sprinkle on the glitter. Let dry. Shake off excess glitter and put several coats of water based varnish over it to keep the glitter from flaking off. This looks great on angel and fairy wings. Clothing can be embellished with charms - antique, paint and seal your charms before sewing or gluing to your clothing. Embellished clothing can be machine washed on the gentle cycle, inside out. Line dry. You can make some really cute pins by combining the brass charms with pre - painted resin pieces that are available in craft stores. Either hang the charms off the bottom of the resin piece with a glue on drop loop tab, or glue some charms directly to the resin piece. For example, I found a bird cage that I glued some birds to, and a flower in a pot that I glued a bow to and a bee and butterfly to the flower. To keep your chain from twisting while you are making a necklace, lay it on a corkboard and pin it down at each end. When using glue on drop loop tabs, I recommend gluing them on with an epoxy, available at your local hardware store.  I use a product called “Sno-Tex” on a lot of my winter and Christmas pins. It is available in the decorative painting section of your local craft store.


RECOMMENDED TOOLS:

I recommend the following tools to make your jewelry creating an easier job.
Needle nose pliers  

Side cutters

Round nose pliers   (these are great for bending loops into head and eye pins)

Dremel power tool ( for drilling holes, grinding, polishing, etc.) Can Be Purchased At Local Hardware Store

PLEASE BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ON ALL TOOLS, PAINTS, SRAYS, CLEANERS, ETC., AND WEAR APPROPRIATE ATTIRE AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT.

 

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