Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tutorial No. 001, Part 1 - Oxidizing brass with Violette Noble

How to oxidize raw brass with something EVERYONE has in their kitchen!

I had plans last night to breeze through this tutorial almost feeling embarrassed about how easy this was but I decided to follow my own steps with some actual raw brass this morning to see where it lead me! The results were really quite amazing. Read my directions and then look at the pictures for the results! Even though I was so tempted to substitute my “perfect ones” for the “after” pictures I decided to show you exactly how mine turned out today! I really learned a lot and it was FUN!

I wrote the tutorial last night and my notes after doing it myself this morning, will be between the “********SIDE NOTE********”

OK here we go!

I’ve tried EVERYTHING to oxidize my raw brass to give it that captivating vintage patina and everything I tried was toxic, didn’t perform very well, was too expensive or was just too time consuming.

One day I was in my kitchen trying for the million-th time to think of something that would work and I thought…I wonder what would happen if I “burned them”. I think I’d seen somewhere that you could use a blow torch (you know that blow torch that you have laying around….) to make your brass dark.

So since my blow torch was in the shop, I decided to put it in my oven on its highest heat (500 degrees for mine) and give that a try and guess what? It worked!

Here’s what I’ve found works the best. LIGHTLY buff the pieces with fine steel wool and drop them into some water with about 1 Tablespoon of salt in it. This is just to remove the surface dirt and oils. Rinse them WELL in warm water and let them dry. Then just lay each piece, face up, on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil.

Here's what they look like when before you start!

Then put them in the oven and “bake” them for between 15 minutes and 1 hour. There really is no rhyme or reason why it takes 15 minutes some days and 1 hour other days but just check them every few minutes and pull them out when you’re happy with the color. **********SIDE NOTE: as they begin to turn you might have to check them every few SECONDS********** You do have to watch them carefully because when they start to turn dark it goes pretty quickly. I usually do it when I’m in the kitchen doing something else anyway,so that I don’t forget them.

When they’ve reached the desired color just pull them out and plunge them into cold water to stop the process…careful they are HOT! ********SIDE NOTE********I DID NOT put the large blue heart in cold water immediately when it came out of the oven and even though the blue color was just starting to appear it turned that GORGEOUS blue right before my very eyes! **********
Here's what mine looked like right after they came out of the oven and had cooled...I KNOW the large heart is not there but that will be a little later!

See how different they all look? In my mind the little "love bird" connector and the dragonfly turned out the best but that's just me. Don't worry....they aren't done yet!

Here's what they looked like after I buffed them a bit with steel wool. You can do it as little or as much as you like, depending on how "antique" you want your brass to look! (don't worry....the large ornate hearts are STILL TO COME!)

Sometimes they turn almost purple, which I love and one time they turned a beautiful turquoise color. I haven’t been able to reproduce that since (until this morning!) but it’s fun to see which way the heat makes them go each time. Sometimes there are places on the brass that are darker than others or little dots of color which looks GREAT! Brass doesn’t naturally oxidize perfectly anyway so this gives it an authentic appearance!********SIDE NOTE…the other day I forgot to clean them OR put them in salt water and then left them in for way too long BUT they were fine. I don’t think they would have turned out very well IF I had cleaned them SO you’ll need to experiment*********

If they get too dark or turn a weird color (which they have for me!) all you have to do is dip them in tarn-x and they turn BRIGHT gold again and you can repeat the process. Make sure you wash them well after you use the tarn-x. SIDE NOTE*******I found this morning that the ones I had dipped into tarn-x and tried to “re-bake” didn’t oxidize very well SO try and get it right the first time. If you don’t though….it just takes a little longer and you might end up with a color that wasn’t what you intended BUT that’s all part of the process!*****************

OK NOW for those hearts! Remember what it looked like before I started?

I decided just for fun to do three and look how they turned out....DRUM ROLL PLEASE~

Can you belive the variations? I couldn't! I've never seen one turn blue like that but I rather like it. It's a little too instense for me but I can see how it could look smashing!

NOW look at them after I bufed them a little bit with steel wool!

This last picture is buffed quite a bit and would be how I would like it and would use it!

Well believe it or not I have a lot more to say BUT I think I'll save that until tomorrow! I have some great sites for you that sell raw brass and some tips and hints for your jewelry making experience!

GOOD LUCK and please feel free to ask questions or make comments! I would love to hear what you think and I would also LOVE to put you on my mailing list for future offers, tutorials, ideas and give-aways.

Just email me at:

and ask me to add you to my list! (your name and email will NEVER be shared with anyone else!)

Faithfully yours,
Violette Noble

Noble Studios Ltd.


  1. Great tutorial! This is awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that out!

  2. Love this -- I have been wanting to color brass and found none of the solutions work too well to get it darkened. The verdigris? No problem -- salt and ammonia on sawdust. But verdigris can be overdone. I love the dark purply heart and am going downstairs right now to fire up the oven!