Make Your Numbers Count!


About the Project: As most homes, mine came with the basic “builder” numbers. Nothing wrong with those, but since we were giving our property some “curve appeal”, new ones were due. If you have been reading my blog, by now you should have noticed that I like different. The new numbers were no exception. Nothing on the hill ever stays as is.

My younger brother is a drummer and years back (8), when I was in design school, he had given me two broken cymbals. At the time, as I still do today, I was really into re-purposing material. At first, I wanted to make some brass bracelets, but I never got around it. And so, I hauled the cymbals all the way from Puerto Rico to Miami (school) and from Miami to the hill.

I like custom, but sometimes, shortcuts are your friend. We went to the big box store that starts with an L and bought these oversized numbers that fit the new house style. So, what are the cymbals for? The number back plate.

My idea, since the cymbals were made of brass, was to create a natural patina on them. I wanted them to be greenish and old looking. There are a couple of ways to achieve this, some involve chemicals, which I rather not use and some procedures that can be safely done with household items.

I did some research and found this good article at Wikihow ( I love this website!). After reading the different procedures, I decided to use the balsamic vinegar and salt formula.

This is how I did it:

1. Get your ruler and make the templates

2. Do a rough cut

3. Clean the brass pieces as directed by Wikihow

4. Trace the template shape and cut them with my jewelers saw-blade. Very bad idea because the metal is not even (cymbal shape). Scratch that.

5. Make the templates, in my case in Illustrator. Cut the paper templates and trace them again on the cymbals. Gave them to my husband to cut with the metal grinder. Much better.

6. Find the containers and ingredients.

7. Prepare the five parts vinegar and one salt mixture and submerge the brass pieces for at least one hour. Waited as indicated

8. Baked the pieces for an hour.

9. Submerged again for five minutes as directed.

10. Baked again for another thirty minutes.

11. Submerged again and let it air dry.

12. Voila…Ugh, not really. No Voila, nothing happened. Probably because the cymbals are an alloy of Brass with something else.

13. No worries, plan B. Although I really liked the burnt color it acquired, once I put the black numbers on top, you could not read them.

14. Spray paint is your friend. Used a “hammered” tin colored spray paint. It took like three layers for the hammered effect to show up, a bit.

15. So, when we were ( my husband, really) bolting the numbers and plates to the wall, the screws that came with the numbers broke like chalk. Two of them. So, you may want to have extra screws hanging around just in case. Bolted. And there you have it, from broken cymbals to awesome custom house numbers.

* In order to protect our privacy, the house numbers have been changed.

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