Some of these pieces are all bronze and some all copper. But a few were made of a “marbled” copper bronze blend. I love the colors just after firing. Holly, you were right. More color seems to show up after the charcoal has been used for several firings.
I don’t mind a matte finish for earring parts, but I want the beads I wear against my skin to feel smooth. I put this load in the tumbler with steel shot to see what would happen to the surface and the color. Result: More shine, less color.
The “rock” beads looked like actual rocks, right out of the kiln. After being tumbled for 15 minutes, they looked like rocks with jaundice. (Not quite the look I was hoping for!)
To test how much of the color on these beads was from the marbled effect of the mixed clays, I used the buffing wheel and Fabuluster compound to achieve a high polish on the bronze beads. Then I used Baldwin’s Patina to see how much of the copper would oxidize.
I’m not satisfied with how they came out. The last test on these beads will be to polish off the patina and bury them in the hot activated charcoal the next time I fire my kiln. Maybe I can recreate some of the color that came out of the kiln originally, while maintaining the smoother surface. I tried to do this with a torch, but the results were unremarkable.