Cups and Balls Magic
Instant Patina Part
An Article By Bruce
(Sung to the tune of Instant Karma by John Lennon)
Instant Patina gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Can you recognize the real thing,
With every Cup you meet...
Well we all go dull,
Like the coffee brown and a penny of old,
Yeah we all go dull,
Dull and dull and dull dull and dull.
Instant Patina Part
Yes I tried too hard with the Instant Karma reference, but when I think about Instant Patina,
the Lennon song keeps popping into my head... bear with me, it won’t be the only weird thing that I write about
before we are through.
Being an enthusiast that has the infliction (nice way of saying sickness) of being a Cup Collector and amassing a
good size collection of Cups, I feel that part of the joy of having such (not understood by significant other) is
just looking at all the Cups... wondering their histories, admiring their varying shapes and finishes.
You as the reader should understand this obsession; why else would you be reading this article on a website
dedicated to Cups and Balls?
When first collecting Cups, I was probably split 50/50 as to liking Cups shiny or with that
neat coffee brown patina that comes with age and use.
Now several years into collecting, I find that I really like a Cup with a brown patina...
especially if they have pronounced or multiple shoulder rings or beads.
Examples of Cups with a natural patina due to use and handling (from working magicians and
those I have turned)...
Magic INC “Charlie Miller” Cups
James Riser Mini Cups
RNT2 JES Squatty 2
RNT2 Worker’s Chop Cup
There are some Cups that I can proudly claim have turned brown from my own use and others
that I have purchased used with that glorious brown hue from working magicians, but what about those other shiny
vessels that deserve to turn to brown?
The truth is I don’t perform enough that I can quickly have the Cups turn naturally; there
are too many Cups and not enough time between family, work and hours in a day. There has to be a way that a normal
guy can achieve this without a science degree or the use of harsh chemicals... isn’t there?
I have investigated many so called patina treatments offered through hobby shops and on-line
suggestions... most turn pennies green, but nothing I would want to put on my Cups.
The best thing I have found so far that gives a somewhat faster than normal result (all
things being relative), is to sleep with the Cups between my pajama shirt and stomach.
Using this method I can get an OK looking patina and have learned not to roll over during the
night... the clink of the Cups tends to wake my wife.
Summer nights work best... I guess I have better copper turning properties during the hot
months... I told you above that there were weird things to come. (Ed note: "No comment
Warning!!! Anything that you try on your Cups is your own decision... I am not
About a month or so over at the “Big Green” website, someone posted a link about using
chemicals and house hold goods to turn copper brown... here is the link they provided... http://www.finishing.com/1000-1199/1198.shtml
It was suggested that “Palmolive” brand dish detergent has something in its ingredients that interacts with
copper, brass and bronze that forms a patina.
On the first Saturday morning I had available to myself, I decided to run an experiment and see if what was
posted would indeed work. I gathered up a recently polished set and another that was slightly brown from sitting on
a shelf that I occasionally play with.
I applied the soap with warm water and worked it into the copper. To make a long story short, I was not that
impressed with the results... I ended up with one set that was very clean and another that had its existing patina
removed... not what was hoped for.
Disappointed with the results I cleaned each set with “Wright’s Copper Cream” to get them back to a neutral
state, cleaned up my mess as not to **** off my wife (wet and dry paper towels everywhere and a sink full of
bubbles) and put everything away. For the rest of the day I thought to myself well that was a waste of time and
Several weeks later I found myself with nothing to do early on a Saturday morning and for some reason thought
that I would try the process over again. In the middle of experimenting on the first set of Cups, my youngest
came into the kitchen wanting breakfast and if you have young children you know that they want it now.
I sat the soap covered Cup down and rinsed my hands off and proceeded to make her breakfast. Once she was
satisfied (cereal and honey toast), I returned to the Cups... to my amazement they were turning a splotchy brown.
I rubbed the remaining soap goo evenly into the Cup and a yellowish brown color began to evenly coat the
Being rather pleased... I rinsed the Cup off and shook off most of the water and patted it gently dry with a
The copper was a tan like brown, a shade like a penny turning from shiny, before it becomes a rich brown.
I was again amazed by the brown on the Cup... this was the patina or the start of the process that I was
hoping for the first time, now I just have to figure out what did I do different this time.
Part 2 to follow... I want to document with photos and refine the process for you. I promise that I will give
you part 2 shortly. Until then here are some tease you photos of the results that I have... before and after
RNT2 Mini Paul Fox Cups Pre Patina
RNT2 Mini Paul Fox Cups Post Patina
Gary Animal Babes Pre Patina
Gary Animal Babes Post Patina
I do not have a before photo, but those familiar with this set of Cups know they were originally mirror polished
then coated with a protective substance so they would never tarnish... I removed the coating and put them through
Thanks Bruce! (Can't
wait for part 2!)
© 2011 Bruce Smith / Cups and