Tarnish, verdigris and patina are all different ways that make metal (and other materials) look old.
In some cases, the oxidization process
takes years, in others, months. But you can get this process in only a few hours.
Check out my methods here, and get started on rusticating your metal objects.
Old silver eventually obtains a muted opaque look, generally with darker areas where the wearing isn’t removing the tarnish.
Really good silver will tarnish beautifully; as the years pass, the patina will only improve. This is not something you can effectively fake, although soaking the silver in vinegar is a place to start.
Used for statues commemorating heroes, as roof panels for some very famous buildings, and as the metal used for the Statue of Liberty, the verdigris that shows after years of weathering is very different from the original gleaming colour of copper kettles and brasses used on horse tack.
Verdigris is almost impossible to fake. If ever the verdigris is removed from a roof for instance, or copper rain chains, it can never be matched.
You can make copper wire oxidize enough to get some verdigris by spraying it with a strong vinegar solution, and after several sprayings it will start to change colour.
Use pickling vinegar, for a safe method of making verdigris. See more about verdigris here.
Muriatic acid will also work, but requires more care as it is very strong. It's used as a rust remover in commercial applications, and can be purchased at vehicle maintenance supply stores.
It can be the lichen on old buildings and bridges, unchanged for centuries, or the look of a well loved piece of antique furniture.
Once removed by renovation, the patina will never be the same.
Coin collectors know this all too well – after the first time someone brings them a valuable seldom struck piece of ancient currency that they 'cleaned up' – removing the patina purposely is never a good idea, as it removes the worth and value of the piece too.
Only old farm equipment and cars left out in the baking sun for decades can beat the faux rusting process that I use.
Simply throwing cans and metal objects, even shiny new barbed wire into the fire to remove any paint or other manufacturing finishes, and then leaving the item out in the rain and weather to finish the process can give you a beautiful rusty patina.
Want it to happen faster?
After burning the finish off, spray or dip the item in a bath of bleach, vinegar or salt water. That will get the oxidization process started.
When it's the right amount of rustiness, rinse it off, and let it age out in the weather.
Snow is the best weathering agent around, but rain works too.
I've had a lot of fun with making tin can buckets too. The addition of a few beads makes all the difference to the finished project.
You can speed up the process by spraying with bleach which will make the item rust almost instantly. Rinse the bleach off when it’s done its job.
You need to take care when handling these items, as the rust will come off on your hands.
Once you finish making the craft you can lightly rub it with some kind of oil to give it the ability to withstand wear.
Try out these ways of making metal look old, and create some patina on your rustic crafts.
The rusting process can take a week or more to develop the full look.
This circular saw blade was already slightly rusty, but putting it in the bonfire, then on top of the rain barrel to get watered by the rain was the crowning glory.
There's nothing fancy about setting up your area to burn metal things - a small fire area, built with safety in mind (not close to any building, keep a charged fire hose or full watering can handy, a shovel to stop any embers from escaping and build the firepit on mineral soil) even a pit a few feet across will serve.
I have a barbecue grill attached to two ground rods (long metal pieces) to cook soil on, or even hot dogs.My go-to implement is a three tined pitchfork that does double duty as a burning log mover and a holder of metal bits, like these mason jar canning lids.
The flat discs from the lids are burned using a specially designed basket made out of hardware cloth and some wire.
I have a special section in my woodshed for things to burn for this type of project.
This is where I keep pieces of junk lumber, old crates, rotting logs that are too punky for indoor burning, and demolition salvage. It doesn't matter what you use to burn the metal bits as long as it's dry.