January 22, 2013

Aging Brass

Since I really started getting into design & figuring out my own style, I’ve really developed a love for brass.  When we moved into our old house (almost 4 years ago) my husband found an old brass bed on the side of the road and dragged it home where it became one of my favorite pieces.

  {our bed}

I love the warmth that brass brings to a home.  (And I’m not talking about the shiny “builder’s brass” here… You know, the coated & lacquered shiny brass that feels almost plastic-y??  That still needs to go if possible.  )

{“builder’s brass”… I know how common it is so bide your time patiently if you’ve got it.  I’ve had lots of it too.}

In our very first town home when we first got married, (7 years ago) our house was full of shiny builder brass door hardware.  Not knowing anything or doing any research, I bought a can of spray paint and “aged” my brass door hardware. hahahah  NOT a good idea.  My hands came away sparkly every time I opened my closet door.

In the next house, I never really got there.  We had projects upon projects and on my “eventually” list I planned to swap out the doors and door hardware but we ended up moving before we got there.

In our new house, I finally got the chance to get what I want as we had to buy new doors anyway because we changed the floor plan so much it didn’t make sense to pay our contractors to put the old hollow core doors back in. SO…  I am finally getting a chance at that brass I’ve wanted.  (!!! yee haw!!)

I decided on black 3 panel Shaker-style doors & we had them painted in black.  (semi-gloss)

We’ve been collecting antique & vintage wooden warm orangey-brown door knobs for the doors:


And we took a leap on unlacquered brass escutcheons, deciding we’d attempt to age them ourselves.

We started slowly, with salt water to oxidize the brass…
My collection of beakers actually DOES come in handy for science experiments 😉

Maybe I was supposed to completely submerge them in the salt water??  But apparently the brass- saltwater thing is for patient people.  (I’m not one of those.)  There was a bit of change to the brass but nothing big enough to warrant an “after” photo.

Next up, we tried BAKING the brass in the oven.  (** REALLY IMPORTANT WARNING!!***  We used unlacquered brass to do this so it’s okay but don’t do this if you have lacquered brass because the lacquer is flammable.  )  After we baked the brass, it became a bit more orangey but it still looked a bit too pristine and shiny for me.

We had heard about trying white vinegar and also that ammonia vapor is maybe the best way to age brass but not having either of those around, we were lazy.  Then, when posting some brass progress pics on Instagram, a couple of my friends mentioned Over Off Oven Cleaner.

It came in a spray can and my husband did it without me watching so I’m not quote sure how he applied it.  (The door plates have become kind of a joke as they’ve been hanging around for a couple of months and we do random things to them all the time.)  We let them sit overnight and here’s how they looked after that:


You can see that they each do different things.

Here’s a close-up of one:

{The shine is all but gone!!}

I’m completely new at this but I think my next step is to sort of buff them a little so it looks more natural??  I also might try applying it completely over the piece instead of spraying it (which gave it the speckled appearance.)

We went after our kitchen faucet too and I’m loving how it’s looking:

There are some green spots on the pieces too, which I love.

The faucet is almost good to go but I’m going to need to work more on the door plates…  They are a little too spotty for what I’m looking for so maybe if I can get them fully submerged somehow?  I’ve also heard of gels??

ps- I came across this blog post which looks super-helpful
Yours Truli Blog on Aging Brass

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted!!  I can’t WAIT to show you how the pieces look when they’re in!!

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