How to use heat to patina brass charms and filigrees

March 31, 2011
bee charms, raw and with heat patina

One before and two after applying heat patina. Check out the rainbows on the middle bee!

Ah, brass. Beautiful brass. I love everything about using brass in my handmade jewelry … except its raw brassiness. Brass is affordable, easy to work with and available in all kinds of fun charms and filigrees. And while giving raw brass an antique patina with an oxidizing solution such as Win-Ox really is not difficult, my favorite method of coloring brass is the torch! It tones down that brash brassiness to a beautiful warm glow that is infinitely more appealing to my eye.

bee charm torch

Torching the bee charm only took a few seconds.

Applying heat to give metal a patina is so easy – and clean! No chemicals, no rinsing, no waiting! Sometimes you can even get shimmery rainbows to appear by holding the heat on a few extra seconds. (The same process works to heat patina raw copper.)

Heat patina raw brass filigree

Raw brass filigree, before and after meeting the torch flame.

You all know to set up a heat proof work area before firing up your torch. This can be as simple as a cookie sheet. Tie back your hair, wear safety glasses and just plain BE SAFE. Do your homework before you start. A great book that explains all the necessities for working with a torch is Soldering Made Simple by Joe Silvera.

Butane is widely available at hardware stores.

Don’t feel fired up to experiment? You can buy Vintaj natural brass jewelry components, which have already undergone a chemical-free process to give them their rich color.
Plated brass filigrees are also available. But I encourage you to try heat patina. It is the safest way to let your inner pyromaniac out to play!

Velvet ribbon adds a luxurious feel to this brass bracelet.

Here is a gorgeous brass jewelry example by Mollie to inspire you! She soldered a raw brass bee to a Vintaj connector to make this bracelet, and used both heat and Win-Ox to patina the pieces. Full parts list and instructions for Blue Honey are available in our design gallery. ~ Cindy

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  • jamberrysong March 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Ooo! Thanks for sharing this. 😀 Definitely going to have to try this method sometime.

  • Jane September 4, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Your tutorials are the clearest and best written I have seen in a long time. Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing with us.