July 13, 2018 at 5:55 am #38458
Herr Doktor JunglingMonster Ranger
At Denver Comic Con I picked up a Monster Medic pin for my hat. I love this purchase! It certainly was pretty, but way too clean and shiny for the wasteland chic look I’m cultivating:
A pin like this needs a little steampunk with its patina, so I decided to use cupric sulphate – blue vitriol – to give it some character. You can see my jar of vitriol next to the pin in the picture up there.
The neat thing about blue vitriol is that the Galvanic reaction between the copper in solution and ferrous alloys develops enough electrical potential to electroplate without external voltage! I used to test with a magnet to get an idea as to whether or not this would work, but some alloys take to it better than others and stainless is pretty much just a waste of time so now I just go for it and see how it turns out.
I got the pin ready by roughing it up a bit with some 120 grit sand paper and then rubbed the whole thing with a bit of cotton saturated with the blue vitriol solution. I find that the best results are obtained by wringing out as much excess vitriol as possible and patiently rubbing in a circular motion until the desired result is achieved. I do not recommend soaking or dipping the metal in the blue vitriol as it leaves a thick copper layer that does not adhere well and wipes away completely and easily. Also, as an experiment, my daughter soaked a nail in the solution over night one time… the iron was completely replaced by copper that dissipated as a powder when agitated (the submerged portion of the nail seemed to just vanish in a cloud), so there is definitely damage done by over exposure.
In this case the copper gave a nice color to the pin and, thanks to the roughing and allowing small drops of vitriol to sit on the surface very briefly, it plated unevenly. The copper was well adhered and did not just wipe off.
My next step was to buff away the blackish sulphate residue with cotton and then hit the whole thing with a super-fine grit polishing cloth to take away just enough of the copper to make it look worn.
Finally, the whole thing was colored with a black sharpie and then the ink removed by lightly buffing with an isopropyl swab to leave just a bit of the ink in the crevices and make it feel a bit dirty. Once in place on the hat, I had a good idea of the results.
I’m very pleased with the result, but might go over it again with the ink as I think I took too much off.
If you’re just looking to go steampunk, try using very fine grit cloth before plating to make sure the metal is nicely exposed and stop after plating for a bright copper effect.
On the other hand, I had good results in getting some verdigris patina on a sanded Altoid tin by spritzing some chlorine bleach over it and letting it sit overnight (a process I considered for this project but ultimately rejected). After rinsing and air drying, I did have to use a clear-coat to keep the patina from rubbing off.
Hopefully some of you can use this in your own projects and uniforms!July 15, 2018 at 7:33 pm #38491
Wow, that’s really cool!
Thank you for sharing and for embracing our worn “antique universe”.
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