This fun project is a homage to my adoptive state of Arizona, also known as the Copper State. One of our most recognizable symbols is the mighty saguaro cactus. I created this decorative project with soldered copper plumbing parts and and made it patina overnight into beautiful turquoise and brown shades
Time: 1 Hours Cost: $40 Difficulty: Moderate
I started by cutting and dry-fitting copper tubing into the various T fittings and elbows I’d need to create the cactus. One was 1/2″ pipe, the other was 3/4″. I cleaned the joints with a wire brush and applied a thin layer of plumbers flux on the mating surfaces.
I carefully heated the fittings until the flux began to sizzle.
Touching the seams with an extended piece of solder at the right heat melts the silvery metal and draws it into the joint.
After a few back-to-back soldered joints, I’d cool and clean the piece with a damp rag. I continued the process with the larger, 3/4″ cactus.
Now it’s magic time. I made a concoction of vinegar and salt, close to a 50 / 50 mix.
That delightful potion got poured over the work pieces and soaked into a good wrapping of damp paper towels.
While the soaking pieces sat outside for a while, I cut and toasted a scrap piece of butcher block with my torch to make a base.
I drilled some planting holes and gave the wood a coat of spray lacquer.
With the based masked off, I painted the surface with wood glue and dumped on some desert dirt, from our obliging front yard,
After the copper had soaked for a while, it started to gray a little. While it was still wet I gave it a coating of salt before leaving it overnight in the garage.
The next morning was magical. The colors continued to deepen throughout the day.