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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Cleaning Your Cups (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Kaliix
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I recently bought a set of Animal cups and instead of continually polishing them, I would like them to get that nice aged look, called a patina finish if memory serves.

From what I understand, that finish takes a while to develop (just how long, I'm not sure? Anyone?). Meanwhile, my cups are getting dirty from constant practice. The only way I really know how to clean copper though is with a product like NeverDull. This will restore the shine however, and since I want that patina finish, using that type of product would be counter-productive.

So, is there a way to clean copper cups while still allowing the patina finish to develop?

Is there any way to speed up that finish, other than the cat urine method I read from someone here?
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Pete Biro
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Rub your hands over them often to darken 'em... and DON'T CLEAN THEM AT ALL... just be patient.
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RobertBloor
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When I first purchased my Gazzo cups I polished them up really nicely with a copper polish.

I haven't polished them since and they're gorgeous.

Kalix - your cups aren't dirty from using them. That is the patina beginning to develop.

Mine only take a few weeks of working to really get a nice look.

Robert Bloor
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Jordan Piper
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Plain old ketchup often works to clean up copper or brass items. As for maintaing the patina I'm not sure.
Bill Palmer
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Don't clean the cups. Let them darken naturally. That is the patina developing, as Pete says. Once the patina has developed, you can clean them with detergent. But it shouldn't be necessary.

On the other hand, Johnny Ace Palmer once told me that cleaning his cups before the show is part of his pre-show ritual.

To each his own.
"The Swatter"

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Pete Biro
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I recently found a set of really olde (100 years or so) Indian Cups... they are tarnished, grubby, rotten looking, but oh so gorgeous... I could never figure out a way to age them so beautifully. If I were to clean them up they would be ugly. Smile
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Bill Palmer
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I would never clean a venerable old set of Indian cups like that. Cups like that need to keep all of their tarnish and, yes, even dirt.

One of the more interesting sets I have in my collection is a set of Indian cups by Tayade that belonged to Tom Palmer. I got them from Ralph and Gloria shortly after Tom passed away. I knew him long ago, and we spoke a few times on the phone after I had done some of the Punx translations.
"The Swatter"

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Mr. Muggle
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Some like a shine, and others don't. I use Never Dull on my cups, coins and such. It works well, and I have never hurt any finish that I've used it on.

I doubt that it would keep the patina finish. I've also used brasso, but never cared much for it.

MM
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Bill Palmer
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I found that Tarn-X is good for getting rid of the oxidation that is on a set of cups that have been allowed to tarnish unevenly. When I get a set of unlacquered cups that have spots on them, I like to get them evenly cleaned, then allow them to tarnish up evenly. Once they have a nice patina, I don't clean them up.

A really nice patina will have a shiny appearance, but will be clean and dark. It also will not show fingerprints as badly as a really shiny clean finish.

But a sparkling, shiny set of copper cups does have a really appealing look to it.

This is one of those cases where nobody is really wrong. It is whatever happens to float your individual boat.
"The Swatter"

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cat26
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It's the oil on your skin that is the catalyst to the oxidation process. I'm not a scientist but I might assume that grubby hands may hasten the process, as well as natural sweat moisture. It might help if several people handle the cups as well. This should develop a natural patina as happens on antiques. Cheers.........
Bill Palmer
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Actually, it's the acids in the oils. The amount of acids depends quite a bit on your emotional state when you handle the copper. "Flop Sweat" will cause the cups to tarnish faster than ordinary perspiration.

There are also artificial means of bringing this about -- chemical preparations, etc. Some of these work better than others. With the current state of legislation and litigiousness of society, it has become increasingly difficult for the average joe to obtain these chemicals unless he has some kind of connection to a chemistry lab. Jeweler's supply houses have some patinizing agents that work fairly well.
"The Swatter"

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Danny Hustle
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Quote:
"Flop Sweat" will cause the cups to tarnish faster than ordinary perspiration.



Well, that explains why my Galli-Galli cups developed such a nice patina so quickly Smile

Best,

Dan-
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Kaliix
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Pardon my ignorance, but what is "Flop Sweat"?

I am not familiar with the term.
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.
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Bill Palmer
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"Flop sweat" is the kind of perspiration people produce when they are afraid. Stand-up comics refer to this as "flop sweat" because they normally produce it when they do not connect with the audience, i.e. when they "flop."
"The Swatter"

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Larry Barnowsky
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So, is there a way to clean copper cups while still allowing the patina finish to develop?

Clean them with dish detergent. If you would like to keep the shine the same or the patina the same you could spray them with a clear lacquer which will prevent any futher oxidation. That can always be removed with lacquer theinner. I polish the brass Johnson cups I have with Haggerty 100 metal polish which you can get in a hardware store.
Smile
Jeff Dial
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Trust me Count, you don't want to spray or paint lacquer on your cups. I work with silversmiths and when they restore a brass bed the customer sometimes requests a lacquer finish. Those guys use a lacquer that is hot when applied. (Out of the price range of most of us.) The other thing that happens is that when the lacquer starts to break down small black dots start to appear in the brass. And lacquer can be difficult to get completely off.

My silversmith recommends that if you want to polish them -- polish them. Otherwise let nature take its course.

Pete recommened a brass polish for the Johnny Paul cups. Any help Pete?
"Think our brains must be too highly trained, Majikthise" HHGG
Larry Barnowsky
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Jeff, you are right about the lacquer wearing off. However, I sprayed clear lacquer on an old copper chick pan after polishing the copper and removing any oxidation. The copper finish stayed untarnished. I suppose with copper cups they would experience more wear and tear and the clear finish might come off at spots.
Bill Palmer
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I have some experience with lacquer finishes on brass items, namely musical instruments. I worked for many years at a musical instrument store that had a repair shop in the back. Periodically, band instruments would come in for replating, polishing and refinishing. It was an expensive task, because the instruments would be completely dismantled, the lacquer would be stripped completely off, then the dents and bumps would be hammered out, the metal refinished and buffed and the lacquer applied.

On a chick pan, this is not difficult; a good buffing and polishing should do the trick, but you MUST make sure that all of the polishing compound is removed, including those niggly bits that get down into the grooves, if any.

Then you need to apply the lacquer in an area that is as dust-free as possible.

Good grade musical instruments will have up to seven layers of lacquer. One thing that should be done (and often isn't) is that after the lacquer is allowed to harden completely, it should be buffed and polished.

The problem with cups is that they get banged against one another constantly, which will cause little gaps to begin to appear at various points in the lacquer. Once this happens, the air will begin to tarnish the cups, and you have something that looks worse than it did before.

Rings 'N Things used a catalyzed epoxy finish. These are not easy to come by, but they can be found on the open market. One such finish is "Fullerplast." I don't know if it is currently available. It used to come from Fuller-O'Brien paint stores. It was a brush-on compound.

Krylon makes a spray on clear epoxy finish. It used to be available from the Home Depot, but is no longer carried at the stores in our area. Some of the independents may be able to find it for you.

Usual disclaimers apply.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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JamesinLA
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Yeah, I would think the polymers would provide a really strong finish. But the way I bang my cups around, little holes would probably appear. I wonder if any of the car finish products would be of use? The car waxes or such? Although less sturdy than epoxy, they may be easier to strip and replace?

Jim
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Leland Stone
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Quote:
On 2003-11-25 13:59, Kaliix wrote:
I recently bought a set of Animal cups and instead of continually polishing them, I would like them to get that nice aged look, called a patina finish if memory serves.


Hiya, Kaliix:

In my shop, the best cleaner for copper is ammonia, straight out of the bottle. Please clean the object outdoors, and when you do, you'll see the ammonia turn a sickly green colour -- that's your patina being washed away (along with the dirt and grime), leaving foundry-fresh copper in its place.
Household (5%) vinegar works, too, but don't use it at the same time!

Green patination ("verdi gris") can be developed on non-lacquered copper and brass as follows: Grab a block of "sal ammoniac" at your hardware store -- it's a white block of salt used for cleaning soldering irons. Break a bit off the block, and crush it until you've got a rounded tablespoon or so; add this to half a gallon of water just off the boil, stir and dissolve. Do the stirring outdoors and wear safety glasses (no, it won't explode -- I just wear safety glasses as a rule when working). Dip the copper item in the mix, then put it a plastic bag and let it sit for a while until the greenish colour develops.
Remove any crust with soft cloth, rub with a bit of Vaseline, and voila -- Ye Olde Cups!

Naturally, you'll want to do a couple of practice runs on copper pots from the thrift store first.

Sincerely,
Leland Edward Stone
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