Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Share - My favorite alternative to LOS

My post today started out so different than it ended up!  I was very inspired by our own Jenny Davies-Reazor's look at the folklore of owls, and all the sweet owls she showed, that I had an idea for an etched owl pendant/necklace that I was going to roll out.  Of course, this idea came late yesterday...yes, right on schedule for a procrastinator who flies by the seat of her pants.

Where is said pendant, you ask?  Uhh, suffice it to say it did not come to pass.  I did design and etch...maybe I will write about that on my personal blog.  For today's purposes, though, I was not happy with the outcome. 

So, today, I decided to share with you my favorite alternative to our beloved liver of sulfur (LOS).  If you know my work, you know I patina everything!  I haven't really embraced the wonderful colors of patina out there...I have tried Vintaj alcohol inks, but haven't ventured into some of the other wonderful patinas that my talented friends use regularly.  I have always been a LOS girl.  I love the vintage or antique quality I get on sterling and copper and LOS delivers that everytime.  But what about on brass, bronze, or other base metals? Not so much!

My "go to" solution for these metals is Novacan Black.  I was introduced to it by Stephanie Lee, when I took her Homesteading class online and later, when I took another class with her at ArtBliss.  If you are familiar with Stephanie's gorgeous mixed-media work, you know she uses hardware store lead-free solder and other base metals a lot.  To get the beloved antique finish that LOS can't deliver on these metals, she uses the Novacan Black.  To be honest, I have never even tried the other ones out there, as I took her at her word on this one. 


This brass disk has been cleaned up after etching, no patina.  

Here are some different pieces (I used the other because I forgot to photograph these raw, duhhh) after I used the Novacan Black...I usually put a bit in the bottle cap, and use a q-tip to rub the solution on.  You may have to change the q-tip frequently...when it starts turning black, I have found it doesn't deliver the solution as readily.  Let it dry completely.

Remove the amount you want with 000 gauge steel wool...available at your local hardware store.

Here are my afters...a cool thing about this kind of solution, is that you can go back in for another layer until you get the depth you desire.  These haven't been tumbled yet, but after that I will probably polish them with Renaissance wax to seal.  Yes, that is the very owl I tried to do...part of him I love, and other parts, not so much!  I'm going to keep trying, though!

The one thing Novacan doesn't work on very well is just doesn't go very dark.  If I am using mixed metals, like with my Molten Morsels, I sometimes use LOS first, then go back over the metals that don't change with the Novacan.

So, there you go!  What about you?  What "go-to" patina do you use?  Please share!!

Oh, you can usually find Novacan at stained-glass suppliers, because it is used a lot to patina the solder on stained glass pieces.  It comes in other colors, but I have only tried the black.

Melissa Meman
Melismatic Art Jewelry
Art. Life. Love


  1. Very cool post! I love the before and after photos~~AND I LOVE your owl! Your etching rocks!

  2. Wow I'm going to have to try the Novacan patina! Thanks for this post Melissa!

  3. Hey - I like that owl! I would love to try that patina. But I have a bottle of Jax black that will last my lifetime... It works for me on brass. I do use LoS elsewhere. And Melissa - I agree with you - I like almost everything patina-d.

    1. ok...what is the correct way to say.."this item has been patina'ed ...patinaed...patinated...finished with a patina? I'm just sayin'...I get hit with the spellcheck red underlines continually. I would like to be gramatically correct, but we artists use it as a verb "to add patina" which is not in the dictionary, obviously!!

  4. Melissa, thanks for the demonstration of Novacan Black--I'd heard of it but have not used it. :) Also, "patinate" is the verb form of "patina," so I'm sure "patinated" is the word you're looking for. xoxo

  5. Melissa, thanks for the demonstration of Novacan Black patina--I'd heard of it but never used it. : ) Also, "patinate" is the verb form of "patina," so "patinated" is the word you're looking for. xoxo

  6. Great post! Thanks for sharing this information. I am a huge owl fan and love your owl!

  7. Thank you for your informative article, Melissa. I think your owl is adorable.
    Patinated sounds so weird and it gets the red underline in my spell-check too. I often use patina'ed, because it sound better, but I suspect it is a made-up word.

  8. I've often wondered what to use on brass to darken it so I think I'll have to try Novacan. Thanks for the great post!

  9. Great post - thanks for the tip. I use silver-black,...but sometimes it doesn't deliver on the brass the way I want so this is good info to know and try out!

  10. Thank you for the informative post! I have never tried Novocan Black, I use Brass Black that I buy at my local gun shop on both brass and copper. I know someone who swears by Gun Blue on copper as well. If I can't say "Patinate", I just say "colored the metal with .....".

    Gina H

  11. Great post! I have never tried the Novacan black on my jewelry, but I am sure I have a bottle sitting around here somewhere left over from my stained glass days. On sterling and copper I usually use LOS. On brass I dig out the Jax Pewter Black, another patina left over from my stained glass days.

  12. I love all the pieces and although you have given awesome instructions on your process I think I will totally leave the creating of these to you!


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