Hold the Finish!

I remember the good ole’ days…  early on, when all the options were torched copper.  And that was all!?!?

I love torched copper.  I love putting those swirls in it and making each piece unique.

This little ball marker biz also started with gloss black being the only color for paint fill. It didn’t take long before various paint colors came along, and next thing you know…  there is no limit to the color combos!

After numerous requests, brushed aluminum came along, and that opened the door for brushed copper. In recent months, we have added blackened copper and aged copper finishes to the list of options for your new ball markers and repair tools. 

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So…  this is getting complicated. What’s the difference?  Let’s break it down so that you can make an educated decision about this stuff.

Aluminum – sleek and light weight- and we just brush it…  torching it doesn’t really get you much, and what you do get rubs off quickly anyway.  There is a process to blacken it, but the results aren’t great, and it wears quickly too.  Anodized aluminum is popular, but doesn’t really fit the Liberty Ball Markers style.  Maybe we’ll look into that someday…

Over time, aluminum will develop a patina, but it’s a silver color just like the metal.  If you use your aluminum marker a lot, you probably won’t notice a thing.  Put it away for a few weeks, and when you take it out you’ll notice it seems a bit dull.  Some greyish-silver residue will rub off on your hands (or pants) and then you’ll notice it’s back to normal.  That’s just the natural patina that accumulated (and quickly rubbed off).

Copper – Old-school and heavy – and it’s mentioned throughout the website, numerous social media posts, other blog posts, etc. so it should come as no surprise – copper is very reactive!  No matter what finish it starts with, it will desperately try to patina as quickly as possible.  With patience, that old and worn look will come, and that is what we really love about copper.  It really does change almost daily.

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Brushed Copper has absolutely no protection – it’s raw metal ready to react to anything it touches.  Your skin, the air…  anything.  If you get one of these to present as a gift, when it arrives you’ll obviously want to look at it.  Please hold it by the edges!  One thumb print on the front will quickly darken and won’t go away…

Torched Copper – the brilliant swirls of color that the torch brings out look really cool.  They also act as a barrier to the patina process.  If you are buying a marker or tool to put on display with your collection, the torched colors will last for a long time.  (be sure to handle things by the edge to help insure that the flat surfaces stay intact)  If you use it, the torched finish will wear through and allow the patina process to take over.  Timeframe will vary depending on handling, temperature, humidity, etc., but it shouldn’t take long.

Aged Copper – the chemical process that gets this look will actually protect your piece longer than any other finish that we currently offer.   For display, it will stay true to it’s original look for a long time.  It looks old from day one, so if you use it, the patina process happens in a much more graceful fashion.

Blackened Copper – this is also a chemical process, and leaves us with a very cool ‘not quite black’ finish that looks similar to a black oxide wedge.  People absolutely love this look.  But – it is also not a durable finish – I repeat – it is NOT durable.

Much like that black oxide wedge that you though was ruined after the first round you played with it, the black finish will quickly wear.  But there’s hope if you are patient – much like the wedge, which looked pretty cool after several rounds, your marker will also develop more character than you ever expected (it just won’t remain black).

Mokume-gane has also entered the game recently.  Not a finish at all, but it sure looks sweet! A forging of layered copper, brass, and nickel-silver, it can be about the most interesting metal you’ll find.  Old-world artistry at it’s finest.  It’s expensive – mainly due to the process required to create it.  Hit it with the torch, and the various metals come to life!  Give it some time and usage, and the different patinas contrast and just keep getting better with age.

I have been asked in the past why we don’t offer a lacquer coating to protect these things… first and foremost, that would completely ruin the patina process.  The fact that these pieces are alive and constantly reacting to the world around them is part of the natural beauty that they offer. 

A lacquer coating is also not a good long-term solution if your marker is to be used.  It will wear through on the high spots and edges, and the lacquer is bound to start to chip.  Those exposed areas begin to patina, the areas still covered don’t, and you have a real mess going on.

These are a few ‘old friends’ that have been in or on my bag over the years.  They all have stories to tell…  much like seeing a group of old friends from school – age has treated them differently, and they are all unique!

These pieces were special to me on day one, and even more so today.  How much can a copper coin really mean to someone?  Trust me – there are some touching stories out there!  But let’s just focus on these…

Let’s see – pictured above is the first ‘birdies or death’ logo that I ever pit on a ball marker. We still use it to brand everything that is Liberty Ball Markers.  Also, my first attempt at the ‘birdie-bomb’ which has become the online persona of Liberty Ball Markers.  The first zip-tag…  Keep Calm Drop Bombs was the first one I made of that design, and one of the first 6 designs that were ever offered in the original eBay store (way before the website was ever thought about).  The two little guys were my first ‘background noise’ markers that I carried not only in my bag, but in my pocket for quite a long time.  So yeah…  6 markers, infinite memories. 

They may not have the flashy appeal of a brand new marker, but they hold so much more for me. These remind me of the humble beginnings of my business. Mistakes that I learned from. Signs of ongoing growth and development. And they all joined me in great days playing a game that I love. I sell a lot of ball markers – but you can’t buy these.

Long story short?  These pieces are never truly ‘finished’.  Kind of like getting a puppy – they evolve and change daily, even when you aren’t paying attention.  No two will age the same, but they all develop a unique charm and personality that can’t be replaced.

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