Distressed and antiqued metal such as tin and copper can really give your arts and crafts projects, design features or decorating renovations a new and cool feature. These simple techniques can all be safely done at home and require basic household chemicals like bleach and vinegar. Just about any metal can be used too; it doesn’t have to be just tin and copper. Antiqued and distressed metal art can easily be done for your next big project and give you the perfect look.
There are several ways to begin distressing metal. The first of these methods is sanding or sandblasting. A small sandblaster, compressor and cage can be easily bought for under a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a minimal investment strategy, a copper scouring pad works well for distressing softer metals. Harder metals need rough sandpaper. A combination sanding block and sponge that allows wet sanding works extremely well for beginning the rusting or antiquing of coppers, tins and other soft metals as well as harder metal like steel and brass.
The next method for distressing and antiquing tin and copper is to use heat. A simple handheld blowtorch works best. Heat can be concentrated on small sections to create darker impressions. In some cases the metal may melt or warp after prolonged flame. Different colors will result when this technique is applied to copper. With addition of various metal put into the direct flame and applied to a different metal, residual traces appear to create an even more beautiful array of color.
Antiquing and distressing tin and copper can also be done by using a tank of water and inducing a chemical oxidation (rust). This can be achieved by using salt water and baking soda for many tins. Electrolysis can be induced using a small 9v battery and a copper or aluminum rod submersed into the water. Connect one lead to the anode and the other to the distressed object. Leave submerged in the saltwater and baking soda solution longer for different effects.
Chemical antiquing involves submersing the tin or copper into a solution of bleach water or vinegar; even both mixed together produce different effects. Allow the items to be distressed soak in the solution for just a little while, rusting can quickly happen. Never use bleach or vinegar with electrolysis.
Any one technique or a combination of several-or all of them-will give you any number of desired effects ranging from simple distortion to complete aging and antiquing.