Friday, May 02, 2008

Verdigris - Going Green

I promised I'd post instruction on how to create verdigris on copper, brass or bronze. There's not an awful lot on the net about it and it was a bit of a hit and miss process. Alison gave me some good advice and so did Penny's husband (if you have cats, read no further just get the cats to have a little pee on your jewellery ;-)) and another little helper found some helpful info on the net where I'd failed to find it, however, in the end I experimented and this is what worked for me.

You will need:

  • copper carbonate - pottery supplies should have this in powdered form
  • vinegar - normal household stuff, although I used the white malt vinegar rather than the reddish brown stuff
  • Salt
  • a glass jar or bowl
  • a flat bowl or plate
  • some clingfilm
  • an old spoon for measuring
  • a brush
  • some wire wool
  • a warm place
  • some paper towels or old tea towel
  • copper, brass or bronze jewellery
The ratio between copper carbonate and vinegar is 1:5, one part copper carbonate to 5 parts vinegar or thereabouts.

Safety first, make sure cats, kids and other pets etc are safely out of the way! Work in a well ventilated area.

  1. Take one part copper carbonate, add 5 parts vinegar, and a pinch of salt. I've used a 1/4 teaspoon copper carbonate, if you use more, add more salt.
  2. Mix the ingredients together.
  3. Cover the flat bowl/plate with clingfilm.
  4. Prepare the jewellery by rubbing it lightly with the wire wool. Wipe off any dust/wire wool debris.
  5. Lay out the jewellery with the side that you want to verdigris on top.
  6. Brush on the mix lightly. Don't put too much on at once. You will need to do this several times until you achieve the amount of verdigris you want. Wipe off any bits that cover areas you don't want verdigrised.
  7. Place the plate in a warm place like on the window sill, in the sun shine or on a warm radiator. I'd not put it next to an open fire, in the oven or on a cooker! No idea what would happen - chemistry was never my strong point - but I am thinking fumes here, and I am not sure how flamable the mix is...
  8. Wait for the first layer to dry completely. The first layer is usually very disappointing, not much to see, but do not despair, just apply again.
  9. Repeat brushing the verdrigris mix onto the jewellery until it has the desired amount of verdigris.

Since we're talking about jewellery here, I'd use a couple of layers of spray varnish over the top of the verdrigris so there will be no skin irritations when the item is worn. I'd also always apply the verdigris on areas that face away from the skin. Should you cover the back by accident, just rub it off with wire wool before you varnish the piece.

Hope someone finds this helpful. :-) I'd be happy to see and post your successes. :-)

PS. Watch out for new items tomorrow (hopefully).


  1. My friend has just acquired a couple of how do I place the piece I want verdigrised just right.......hmmmm

  2. This looks like an interesting experiment for Toby over the summer hols.
    Glad to know you took on board Laurence's advice!!! We are planning to get a kitten this summer.......


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