Creating a Faux Heat Patina on Steel

cold blue

Why a Faux Finish?

You might want to ask “Why create a faux finish?”  Well there can be a number of practical reasons to do so.  One obvious reason would be cost.   There are many cases when the cost of an actual would make decor prohibitively expensive for most people.  A faux or “false” finish meant to duplicate an expensive finish will more than likely consist of cheap and readily available materials.  Another reason that is somewhat less obvious would be durability and reproducably.  Take for instance this industrial chic wall art titles “Cold Blue” I recently completed.  Notice that is has an iridescent blue cast on it.  This is meant to represent the beautiful blue heat patina typically found on heat treated steel.  As beautiful as a real heat patina would be on steel, it is fragile and there is no practical way to preserve or protect it.  That is because whatever clear coat or sealant you put on, it reacts with the patina greatly diminishing its brilliance and shine.  Therefore I created a faux blue heat patina with inexpensive and readily available materials and this is bound to last a long time if properly cared for.  There were just a few steps that I took to achieve the finish you see here.


Preping and Coloring the Metal Surface

I had the metal assemblage that I wanted.  It was now just a matter of preping the metal surface so it could take being colored.  I used a flap disc on an angle grinder to shine up the steel and leave an interesting textured surface.  Next I made up a solution of Birchwood Casey Super Blue gun bluing.  I used equal portions ofgun bluing and water.  This chemical is a strongly acidic oxidizer and it coverts clean steel to a rich black/blue finish instantly.  Here is a shot after application of gun bluing.

IMAG1182   It can create an uneven coloring so it is best to sand or use steel wool to take some of the finish off and reapply if necessary.  Also, I think I should mention that no matter how well you thought you rinsed off the bluing, enough will be on some areas to cause some rust discolorations.


Again just sand it or scratch it to removed unwanted residues.  The next step once I had the right color and removed excess gun bluing or rust stains was to apply a fixative.  The fixative is a flat nonglossy clear coat that seals in a finish so more finishing layers can be applied on top of it.  In this case, I used Krylon Flat clear spray.


Not only does the flat clear provide a “tooth” for other coatings, it allows for a measure of corrosion protection of the base metal.  I made up a glaze from gloss acrylic medium and interference blue acrylic paint.  This was thinned with the appropiate amount of water to get it to pass though a 2 stage airbrush.  I needed the utmost control over the iridescent finish.  The reason is the interference paints when applied too heavily will give a quite objectional white haze that cannot be corrected without completely removing the finish.  I used a fan spray nozzle in my airbrush.  This is designed for shading and other subtle color applications.  Definitely not for the beginner.  Sorry for not including more pictures of the airbrush and application.  I will update this post at a latter date.

Here is some photos  of the finished art at an angle that shows the blue better.

Cold Blue3

Cold Blue4

Cold Blue5


5 thoughts on “Creating a Faux Heat Patina on Steel

  1. […] Creating a Faux Heat Patina on Steel ( […]

  2. cjmoss says:

    I think the finishes turned out very nicely! It’s so fun to see all the different finishes we can put on metal, isn’t it!?

  3. […] Creating a Faux Heat Patina on Steel ( […]

  4. […] Creating a Faux Heat Patina on Steel ( […]

  5. […] Creating a Faux Heat Patina on Steel ( […]

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