How to Apply Traditional Patinas to Iron & Steel

Written by heather montgomery
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How to Apply Traditional Patinas to Iron & Steel
Make iron and steel look old with the application of patinas. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Traditional patinas are a mixture of chemicals painted onto the surface of metal to create an aged look. Iron and steel are two common metals that sculptors apply patinas to change the colour of the surface. While more modern patinas are made without the use of acids, traditional patinas are acid based and can cause rust to appear on iron and steel. This will give your metal a rustic look.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 120-grit Sandpaper
  • Acetone
  • Rag
  • Chemical resistant gloves
  • Goggles
  • Dust sheet
  • Iron or steel
  • Heat gun, blow torch or hair dryer
  • Traditional (acid-based) patina
  • Paintbrush
  • Spray bottle
  • Lacquer

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  1. 1

    Sand the entire surface with 120-grit sandpaper. Wipe away the residue with a rag dampened with acetone. Allow the acetone to evaporate.

  2. 2

    Put on chemical resistant gloves and goggles to protect you from the acid-based patina.

  3. 3

    Lay a dust sheet on a flat surface; lay the metal onto the dust sheet.

  4. 4

    Use a heat gun, blow torch or hair dryer to heat the surface of the metal to 93.3 degrees C. To test for the correct temperature drop water onto the metal surface, if the water sizzles and evaporates the metal is hot enough.

  5. 5

    Apply a layer of patina to the surface of the metal with a paintbrush. Let the patina sit for at least one hour. Do not allow the metal to come in contact with any water or rain.

  6. 6

    Reheat the metal to darken the patina colour.

  7. 7

    Fill a spray bottle with acetone. Spray the entire surface of the metal with acetone. Allow the acetone to evaporate.

  8. 8

    Use a paintbrush to apply a layer of lacquer to protect the patina. Let the lacquer dry completely.

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