Shiny brass looks good to some, but others like their brass to have an antique appearance. Fortunately, brass does not have to be old to look antique. You can turn a brand new shiny brass object into an antique treasure in a few simple steps. However, lacquered and unlacquered brass require different steps for ageing them, so this is something to consider before you move forward. Once you know whether you are working with lacquered or unlacquered brass, you can get started.
Clean your brass objects to make sure they are free of dirt, dust, grease and debris. To do this, wash them in warm, soapy water and dry them with a clean soft cloth.
Remove lacquer finish or varnish from brass objects by soaking them in lacquer thinner overnight, or paint on a coat of acetone nail polish remover and soak the piece in boiling water. Dry the brass objects with a clean, soft cloth.
Make a solution of 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 cup of vinegar. Use a clean paint brush to cover the brass object in this solution. This mixture will cause the brass to oxidise, which is the process that occurs over time that makes brass tarnish.
Leave the mixture of salt and vinegar on your brass object overnight. Rinse it clean and dry it with a soft cloth. If it looks as you want it to look, your work is finished. You can also repeat the process if the item still doesn't look antique.
Soak a rag in clear ammonia. Put the rag on one end of a plastic container. Put your brass item on the other. The two items should not be touching. Close the lid tightly so the vapours do not escape the container. Leave the item in the container outside or in a well-ventilated area and wear rubber gloves during this process to protect your skin. The vapour from the ammonia will cause the brass to take on an aged appearance. Check the brass item frequently and take it out for good when it reaches the desired look. You can use the ammonia method in addition to or in place of the salt and vinegar method.