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Worn Finish for Antique (May 2011)

In the finishing Industry there are several “antiquing” solutions that can provide a palette of tones from light chocolate brown to a deep, rich, ebony black on brass, copper or bronze surfaces. Most of these finishes leave a soft dark dirty film on the surface that can be removed by different techniques. The worn finish can go beyond removing the “smut” from the surface to relieving or wearing back, the antique color to the original brass or bronze. This gives the appearance of being handled or more commonly, highlighted. The appearance of some parts such as buttons can be accented by a dark shadow only in the recesses for contrast to help accentuate a pattern in the material. The dark and light contrast can give a very pleasing appearance to the parts.

Highlighting the parts can also be achieved by mechanical means to remove the smut and excess coating. Tumbling in ground corn cob does a good job of removing the smut; by slowly wearing back the color as well as drying the parts. Tumbling stones or vibratory ceramic media of the correct shape for a short run can polish the highlights of the brass parts. Abrasive pads or 0000 steel wool can be used as well as clean rags to wipe the surface. For a lighter look, there is additional removal of smut and color when parts are wiped when wet. Dry antique parts tend to hold the darker color better. Brass brush wheels have been used, but they can darken the part compared to a non-metallic wheel.