Thoughts of Design Inspiration


Patina Mysteries on Copper

copper patina with salt

Blue patina on copper – the piece on the left is copper rescued from my computer’s fan that got replaced!

My previous attempts with creating patina on copper have been mostly using commercial methods, patina mix you can buy at the store (like liver of sulfur). ( I talked about this  in a previous post “Revisited Inspirations”.) I’ve been reading about various “home methods” and after some experimentation I think I have finally figured out how to get the results I want! I first tried burying the copper pieces in a mix of salt and ammonia. For days I’ve been changing the mix and gotten uneven results (a small part of the piece would get blue patina and rest would just darken).  I kept adding salt or adding ammonia thinking the ratio of the two is the key. I finally read about this method “fumigation” –  you suspend the pieces in a container, sprinkle the salt on and let the ammonia fume the pieces. The results are awesome, I’m getting the exact bright blue color I want ( and it doesn’t take four days!) You can get the patina more even as long as you sprinkle the salt evenly and then you can watch it change. (Yes, I’m standing around with a flash light pointed at the pieces to see every little detail that happens…)

copper metal patinated blue

Thick copper shapes hammered to “paddles” and patinated with the home made method.

I also tried a modified “bury method” where you moisten paper towels with the ammonia, place the pieces in between them and sprinkle the salt on the towels. You seal the container and check it every once in a while. That seemed to also work, you just can’t watch it all happen.

It seems that experimenting is the only way to get what you want, there is no exact formula if you’re using home made ingredients. But on the other hand, that ‘s the fun part of the whole process! You get surprises – good and bad – and learn at the same time. Now I just need to wait for the pieces to dry out completely and then seal them. I meant to use the round shapes in some of my riveting experiments, but I might not want to cover the beautiful patina now with another layer of metal. Back to making more copper shapes!

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Rope – Hemp and Macrame Inspirations

Worming, parceling, serving

Worming, parceling, serving

So, yes, there is the movie “Rope” by Alfred Hitchcock with James Stewart…but I’m not talking about that. I recently visited the Coast Guard ship Eagle while it was in New Hampshire (ship is 65 feet or more, so don’t call it a “boat” like I did!). She was built as a training vessel for the German Navy as SNF Horst Wessel and was awarded to the United States as reparations following WWII. Today it serves as a training vessel for cadets and officer candidates.

While on board of the Eagle I took notice of the usage of rope, it is used everywhere –  there are knots, rugs, pulleys, steps, mops! You have all heard of macrame, but did you know that rope is used to protect line using the methods of worming, parceling, and serving?  These terms sure sound interesting – I had no idea what they meant. I saw this little demonstration on the ship of how to use these methods with rope and got really interested. Yes, tar is used. And this whole approach is really practical. Here are the concepts:

The eagle flag staff

I believe this is the staff at the stern. It sure looks like a lot of tar was used on the rope.

Worming consists of following the lay of the line between the strands with tarred small stuff.  This keeps moisture from penetrating to the interior of the line and at the same time fills out the round of line, giving a smooth surface for the parceling and serving.

Parceling consists of wrapping the line spirally with long strips of canvas, following the lay of the line overlapping like the shingles on a roof, to shed moisture.

Serving consists of wrapping small stuff snugly over the parceling, each turn being hove as taut as possible so that the procedure makes a stiff protecting cover for the line.

With my jewelry work I have tried knotting hemp before, but now I really got interested in it. I found out that you can get it in all different colors and there are really so many techniques that can be used.  The standard macrame with combining beads is the one I started with (see picture).

Macrame tassel pendant

My attempt – it has macrame with small cat’s eye beads with a large aventurine and wood bead.

I ended up with a pretty nice little combination of beads and macrame that you can make into a tassel necklace.  This is definitely worth exploring, the options are limitless with how you can combine different materials. You can also learn other ways of knotting and end up with something like the blue one below that probably took at least 500 knots and many hours to make. Anyway, I now have the hemp in four colors in addition to the natural one and I can keep experimenting!


Yes, it’s a hemp-mote…a remote made out of hemp…


A macrame anklet – I like the colors and the knotting technique is really interesting.

micro macrame pendant

Micro macrame pendant with lots of knots!

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

You could try climbing up these rope steps on the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle – while sailing!