I like brass. Yep – I admit it. I favor the gold finish over silver or bronze. It adds warmth and a nice patina and contrast to the furnishings in a room – plus it is classic – always be in style.
For the sideboard I painted, I wanted to add aged brass drawer and label pulls, but the un-lacquered ones that Vandyke’s sells, were on backorder until mid July. They did however have bright brass in stock. I don’t mind bright brass, but for the sideboard, I didn’t want the pulls to be too shiny. I was upset that I couldn’t get the ones I wanted right away, but then figured, I could buy the bright brass and do a little DIY magic on them to tone them down a bit.
That is what I did.
I read about using salt and vinegar, lemons, and other solutions, but they took time and the results were not satisfactory. If you have bright polished brass in your home and want to age it, I found a quick and easy way to do it.
How to Age Brass
I bought the brass pulls, here.Brass Ager – I bought it online at the House of Antique Hardware for $8.59 “000” Steel Wool Container large enough to hold item you are aging Optional: Acetone
First you have to determine if the brass you want to age has lacquer on it. If it does, that needs to be removed before you can age the brass.
If you are not sure if it has lacquer on it or not – dip it in some nail polish remover or acetone for a minute or two.
If it starts to look like this… it has lacquer on it.
I bought the can of acetone at Lowes. I poured it in a plastic container to soak the drawer pulls in. Place it next to your kitchen sink so that as soon as you start to see the finish get all gummy, you can rinse it off under water. You may have to dip it in again to make sure all the lacquer is removed. It only takes a minute.
The “000” steel wool does not rough the surface, it only removes some of the Brass Ager so you can achieve the exact look you desire.
1. Un-lacquered bright brass.
2. Brass that was soaked with Brass Ager for 10 seconds.
3. To lessen the aged effect – rub steel wool over the brass while it is still wet. If you remove too much – re-dip in Brass Ager and repeat rubbing with steel wool until you get the desired amount of aging.
I removed just enough of the aged color to tone the brass down a bit, but not as bright as they were before. They will naturally age and get darker from now on, since I removed the lacquer.
How to Make the Brass Verdigris
1. Remove any lacquer or varnish using the acetone (nail polish remover) then clean the piece. Dip the item into boiling water and let it boil for a few seconds. When the piece is cool enough to handle, clean it by wiping it all over with a clean dry cloth.
2. Soak your item for 1 hour in a mixture of vinegar and salt. Use 1 tbsp. of salt for each cup of vinegar
3. Bake the item in a 450 F oven for 20 minutes.
4. Soak the hot item in the vinegar solution until you are pleased with the color.
5. Shake off the excess vinegar and allow the brass to dry.
I also have a post on how I updated shiny brass lamps using another technique. You will find it in this post: Transformation: Update Brass Lamps
how to make labels for the drawer pulls
The next step is to make the labels for the drawer pulls. Using my word processor, I printed out the names for each label. I traced around the rectangular part of the pull to figure out the size I would need. I set the font to Engravers MT -size to 22 pts. I printed out the names for each on white card stock.
I cut a piece of acetate from the top lid of a box of notecards to act as clear protective covers for each label. Then pla