Wash the brass charms & other brass items in a solution of dish detergent and warm water to eliminate oil residue from the manufacturing process. An old toothbrush works well for scrubbing the charms. Rinse thoroughly in warm water & dry the charms immediately to prevent water spots. Raw brass items that have spots or a dull finish can be cleaned with any brand of brass polish. After using the polish, wash the piece with dish detergent & water, then rinse & dry it before antiquing & painting it.
Items may be antiqued with dark brown or black acrylic craft paint for a traditional look. Coat the entire piece with paint (do one side at a time, & if it is a large piece, do one half at a time) & immediately wipe off the excess paint with a paper towel or soft rag, (old T-shirts work well) leaving paint in the crevices. If it is too light, simply repeat the process. If it is too dark or you just don't like the way it looks, you can scrub the paint off with a toothbrush, & start over. For a different look, you can “pickle” the brass pieces with white acrylic craft paint, or experiment on your own for a unique color effect.
Items may be painted with acrylic, or metallic acrylic craft paints after antiquing them. We recommend putting one coat of spray lacquer on the pieces (after antiquing them) before painting them. The paint seems to stick better.
After antiquing and/or painting, the brass pieces must be sealed to prevent tarnishing. Either a spray or brush on sealer may be used. You may use any brand of water - based varnish or polyurethane, or spray lacquer from your local hardware store. Use a satin or gloss finish, depending on how you want your pieces to look. The best way to spray items is to lay the pieces on a piece of newspaper in a large, low sided box. Change the newspaper between each coat of spray.
The rings can be broken off many of the charms by bending it back & forth. On the heavier charms, the ring must be cut off with a pair of side cutters. This sometimes leaves a rough edge that must be filed off or ground off with a dremal tool. The puffed charms can be taken apart by cutting off the ring & opening the charm up when you want to use a puffed charm on a collage pin. If a piece doesn’t have a ring on it, use glue on drop loop tab. Embellish your projects with faux pearls & rhinestones. Add a little sparkle with powdered or liquid glitter (DecoArt paint makes a liquid glitter called “Craft Twinkles”). To use a powdered glitter, brush on a light coat of water based varnish & while it is still wet, sprinkle on the glitter. Let dry. Shake off excess glitter & put several coats of water based varnish over it to keep the glitter from flaking off. This looks great on angel & fairy wings