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I Forge Iron

HELP Info need on SS patina's

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Hi folks -- Frist off I am not intrested in useing a ac/ox torch to heat Stainless & run colors for this project


Now that being said


What I am looking for is a way to color / patina stainless steel art pieces that we are doing these days

some kind of acid ech or ???  ANY Info a book to ck out on this subject would help Roger & myself

we are working on a fairly large piece & Roger would like to get some color / patina in it here & there


THANKS alot for any help

Steve P


PS there will be pics of art piece sooner or later posted

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Thread referenced by Steve S does not specifically addess patina on stainless - which is what Steve P requested.


I'm fond of the gray left after cleaning the firescale, but I suspect that's not what is needed here either. I've read about reducing acids versus oxidizing acids, and using electric current, but don't recall the details and never tried it myself.


Perhaps someone else here has played with these things.

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THANKS ! for all youre input into this project folks ! :)


thingmaker you are right I want to color stainless steel only for this project & ??


But I also want to color some SS fish = samon & other's fish & lol ?? down the road for outside art on the coast with the weather we have here lots of rain !!!1 + salt


Fe-Wood looking for my catolog as I type this lol shop NO house ??? thanks for the ph# no though :)


now let me to tell you of what were doing, to help this alone some


we have forge out a sea clam about 2' sq sort of out of plate - to that we are putting 3'+ tenickls made & formed into tube from plate - this will go on a SS stand 4' or so in H witch is a big sea weed kelp leaf thing :D theres a story just behind that part LOL 

well anyway I am a gringing nut !! spent more time behind a grinder or beltsander than most ! Roger is WAY beyond that !!!!

his ruff work is real shiny -- Now there's the thing to shiny everywhere ! it needs coloring here & there 


In this project I have become a metal potter of SS I tig weld it on & we grinded it to form much like a woodcarver would do with a chainsaw LOL

as a welder I never saw this coming  :o  LOL its COOL though :wub:

still trying to find pics time for dinner

next time


PS sp not working on site & a few beers :rolleyes:

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The problem with patinating "stainless steel" is that it mostly lives up to it's name and stubbornly resists "staining" AKA patinas.  I have noted that the scale is often very durable on stainless steel though.  If the scale is worked into some surface texture it can be pretty permanent.  IMO paint would be MUCH more durable than most patinas and can give most of the same colors as well as MANY more. If you are skilled with adjusting the opacity of paint you can get pretty good approximations of most patinas in a more durable medium.  The very tight scale typical of stainless steel will hold paint pretty well and slight scuffing of the smoother surface areas makes for a decent ground to paint on also.

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I recall reading a science article where someone used a can of Pepsi and a 9-volt battery to put rainbow colors on stainless steel. If I remember correctly, some alloy in the can transferred to the steel through electrolysis, leaving a deposit only a few molecules thick. The article referred to the outer cladding metal on the Guggenheim Museum, and that it was done using the same principle, but on an industrial scale. Maybe I mis-remember the facts, but if you're good at researching on the computer, you ought to be able to find information on that. When the rainbow-colored pocketknives hit the market, I assumed that they were done by some electrolysis method. Good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...

i am a long way from being an expert, but when i worked in sheetmetal we used to clean the welds up on stainless with, i think, phosphoric acid and a batterie charger. We needed an electrode made from the same material we welded and then it would remove the heat marks. I beleive all we were doing was putting a very thin plating on the material. You could change the electrode to copper or some other material and then treat it to get different colors. Don't know how that would work but might be interesting and fun to try. I would think, if it worked, it would be a fairly durable finish.



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I talked to my friend Jim Vilona (on FB), who does alot of SS sclpture with patina(s). He always preps the surface with a 10% ferric nitrate solution at 200*f before he applies any patina. This gives the SS a chemical ''tooth''. He has several videos on his FB page where he's working with SS.....

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While I do not have any experience with coloring SS I have done a few patinas on it.As mentioned SS does resist adhesion,so surface preparation is key.Mine were accomplished with a definite texture to the steel( a lower section for the darker areas to nestle).Then the upper surface was sanded or polished to contrast.One of these was just firescale(also previously mentioned),and is tough but I can't speak of it's exterior durability.The other is a hitch cover I made for my truck.The texture on this one was done with punch work to create the recesses.After punching,I cleaned the metal well with denatured alcohol,and then heated the surface and applied linseed oil.Once the linseed oil was burned onto the steel,the surface was polished.This has been outside in VA weather for a few years and shows no signs of coming off.If I were to attempt a color and patina I would probably approach it with a similar texturing method,but then try to achieve an extra tooth(either with sandblasting or etching),to help the color adhere.  

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