After seeing this picture of ombre pennies arranged by oxidation, I was fixated on creating some ombre penny art of my own. What did I learn? Creating ombre penny art isn’t as easy as you might think.
Bob Dinetz created this image for a New York Times piece on the neglected penny. Isn’t it stunning?
Obviously the first step in creating something similar was to find a mess of pennies in different stages of oxidation.
I gathered up all the pennies I could find in the car, junk drawer, dryer, etc. These pennies didn’t have nearly as much variation in color as I needed. Most of them were just dirty messes.
An experiment was in order. I researched several ways to shine pennies and tried a few of them out.
First, I tried just soaking some of them in white vinegar.
While those pennies were pickling, I gave another batch a bath in baking soda and white vinegar (no volcanic eruptions occurred – don’t worry).
Finally, I gave a third batch a rub-down with good-old all-American ketchup. Ew.
Here are my oh-so-official findings:
The ketchup worked surprisingly well. Something about the vinegar mixed with the acid of the tomatoes or something. I don’t know. Science.
Plain vinegar worked, but didn’t give as consistent of a shine.
The vinegar and soda method was the least effective, needing two helpings of baking soda and a good rinse to show much change in color.
Once I had my pennies shined, I arranged them by most copper to most patina-ed (that’s not a word) and began gluing them onto some dark teal cardstock, always keeping Honest Abe front and center.
You can see that I was able to get a decent variation in shade from the pennies.
I glued a simple white mat from Dollar Tree to the cardstock as well to make a focal piece for my fall mantel.
Since my Fall decorating colors are shades of teal, orange, aubergine, and copper, the ombre pennies are an unexpected, but cohesive touch.
I also set out a few copper baking molds which, although they aren’t really Fall décor, fit my color scheme nicely and are vaguely pumpkin-shaped.
I made the autumn colored swag by using some thread/yarn/string that I bought from the Target dollar spot YEARS ago. I just did some long crocheted starter loops and draped them over the mirror. I like how it looks like the mirror is wearing a necklace.
The yarn fades from one color to another, so it ties in with the ombre of the penny art.
Bonus tip: Ketchup also shines up the bottoms of copper pots and pans, like the ones I displayed on the top shelf of my baker’s rack.
Are you rocking any of the ombre trend in your house?