Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to Age Brass

Is it just me, or have you also noticed brass making a comeback lately in the design world?

Brass sink, faucet, and light fixture – photo source unknown

I am not talking about shiny lacquered brass but rather the aged, “been around for a while” looking brass.

Brass vase from Little Green Notebook

Having owned my share of brass fixtures, lamps and accessories, I will be the first to admit I go back and forth on my opinion about brass – sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t and my feelings about it seem to change depending on the room in which it is being used. What I am quite certain about, however, is my dislike for shiny, lacquered brass – the type my table lamp (shown below) is made from.

To remedy the situation I decided to do some internet research to find out how I could age my brass lamp. The technique shown below can also be used for candlesticks, door knobs, etc. – the key is to make sure the item you are working with is brass.

Nail polish remover
Apple cider vinegar
Final stripping pads
Paper towels

Take lamp apart.

Place a small amount of nail polish remover on stripping pad. Gently rub to remove lacquered finish. It is important to use a very fine grade of stripping pad so that you do not make scratches in the metal.

Once all lacquer has been removed, wipe brass with soap and water to remove any nail polish residue. Dry.

Place lamp on towel and slowly pour a small amount of apple cider vinegar over the brass. You may want to place a piece of plastic under the towel to prevent the vinegar from soaking into the table or floor surface. If you are using a candle stick or something similar you could soak the item in a container rather than use the method shown here.

Let sit and add additional apple cider vinegar until desired finish is achieved. I discovered the brass which was in contact with the soaked towel aged fairly quickly. Thus, I kept turning the sections of the brass which had not aged so that they were in contact with the soaked part of the towel.

If your brass turns green – like mine did – simply wipe clean with a damp cloth.

The result – a lamp which now looks like it has been around for many years.

I would love to hear your opinion about brass.  Do you have any brass in your home? If so, where?  Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts!

Linking up with
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Tip Me Tuesday at Tip Junkie
Tickled Pink at 504 Main
Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors


Andrea said...

great tutorial! While I don't have much brass in my home, I too have noticed that it's making a comeback!


AHHH, much better! Much better! I agree with you on the dislike of lacquered brass. I guess I am feeling like I'm officially "not young" anymore since I had my share of brass lamps, brass candlesticks, brass doo dads, brass fixtures, you name it. AND got rid of it all except for in one bathroom. And I have to admit, I hate it every time I go in there, but $$$ has not allowed me to change it out just yet. Maybe if I hang on a little longer, it will become trendy again and it will just look new and hip instead of old and dated!!!

You never know...


Janie said...

I love gold/brass look and am so glad to see the trends turning again. If you wait long enough, things always come back around.

Janie @ Romantic Domestic

Carol Ann said...

I am SO going to try this! And I know just the lamp to sacrifice to the transformation. Now if I can just figure out how to dip a brass headboard in the apple vinegar solution! Thanks so much.

At The Picket Fence said...

I have felt like my love of gold/brass has kinda been like my "dirty little secret"! LOL! I too prefer the more "aged" look or a brushed brass vs. the shiny stuff but I think that the pendulum swung so far away from it and yet you see it in magazines still all the time (like Traditional Home). In my own home, I try to mix my metals so you will find brass, oiled bronze, black, etc. which I think keeps things interesting and a little less matchy/matchy. This is such a great tutorial and I'm loving your blog! :-)

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Hi Stacy, I am seeing more brass in design magazines now. Looks like I should have held on to mine. Thanks for the tip.
Sherry said...

This is GREAT! Thanks for sharing it. I've always been partial to antique brass, it's a warmth thing. Silver is pretty, nickel is nice, but brass for me has always been the bomb. I love it. I'd like to have less of the shiny door knobs and whatnot that are around my house, but in time... I will definitely be using this tutorial, though!

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Ha! I just completed removing spray paint from my brass fixture, I'm thinking the couple years under paint helped it become aged! Your lamp looks great! Janell

Unknown said...

Looks good! But I have to ask: what are stripping pads? Euro blogger here.
XO Marianne

Remodelaholic said...

Stacy, I am loving this! Would you want to come do a guest post about this at Remodelaholic? let me know and I will send you the details!


René said...

I love the look of old brass & your lamp is beautiful now. I have tried nail polish removed, but it didn't work so I used lacquer remover (which is even stinkier).

Amy Chalmers said...

Thats interesting! I just left a comment on Eddie Ross' blog asking him if brass was the next design trend...I think it might be!

Cassie said...

I'm with ya on the shiney thanks! Brass has it's place with the right colors/decor. I love how you've aged it....thanks for sharing with us!!

for the love of a house said...

funny, as I have a post in the hopper about brass too! I had banned it from my house for YEARS, but I totally agree that in the past couple it is definitely making a comeback! I love how you aged your lamp- it looks so wonderful now, I love it!!

happy weekend!

Heaven's Walk said...

Love the new look of your lamp! That aged brass is so much better looking than that bright stuff. lol! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial which I'm saving! :)

xoxo laurie

Unknown said...

Your lamp looks 100% better! I totally agree about using aged brass these days. I'm loving it and using it on projects where a traditional, warm, metal finish is appropriate. I did a blog post about using brass now as well not too long ago. Nice to see your process.

Red Door Home said...

Stripping pads are an alternative to medium fine steel wool. The package says they are the equal to a 0 guage steel wool.

Mary said...

I love this! I'd like to invite you to post it on Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage. The link will be up all week, I hope you can join in. Have a nice week, Mary :O)

Ribbonwood Cottage said...

HI, I love this. You did such a great job and I definitely agree...the after looks amazing. Love it.

Serendipity Chic Design said...

This looks so classy and elegant. Love what you have done with it. It's one of those pieces that you can accommodate to dress a room up or use it casual.

Coincidentally, I just started a theme party today, and lamp makeovers are what I am hosting....Would love for you to stop by.

Take care,

Beth said...

Nice tutorial! I will print this and file away for when I may need to age brass! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Our home was built in the 90's right before the style changed to nickle and chrome, so literally everything in our house is brass. Door knobs, light fixtures, sink faucets, etc. And yes, it's the shiny kind.

Honestly, I am not a fan, but it would be totally impractical to change the entire house when you know the decorators will eventually change their minds on what's in.

I do like the "old" brass look though and am glad to see that brass is coming back. Maybe my fixtures won't look quite so dated then.

KK said...

I have always liked the idea of brass and have tried and failed with many pieces that were too bright. But the old brass look is fabulous. I found this out by finding an old lamp with the good brass.

Jane @ Jane's Junk and Treasures said...


I will get to work on the stuff in my shed this weekend!!
Who knew..........

Atticmag said...

I think you have it just right: antique brass. I do like it very much. Brass always has been a basic for very good reason. I never worry about what's in or out. Mixing everything together usually solves it.

Good job on the lamp. It looks great where you've put it. Jane

Upscale Downhome said...

I agree...I see aged brass with a great patina everywhere! Thank you for showing us how to achieve this result.

SallyPat said...

Amazing! We have shiny brass doorknobs throughout our home. I hate them w/ a passion but hadn't gotten around to updating them. I just used your method to remove the shiny & those babies aren't going anywhere! They look soft, old & kind of glamorous. Thank you!

Unknown said...

I love it, I only wish you hadn't over exposed the photos with the finished product. It makes it more difficult to see the contrast in the before and after. It looks beautiful though.

Unknown said...

I love the look of old brass & your lamp is beautiful now.Thank you for sharing!

Aashish Mishra said...

I just completed removing spray paint from my brass fixture, I'm thinking the couple years under paint helped it become aged! Your lamp looks great!

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