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Works of art made of metal are decorated through a variety of methods, which are referred to as finishing techniques. These techniques can be classified into two major categories: chemical (by chemical processes) or physical (by mechanical means). This publication describes several finishing methods along with a brief history of their use.

The accompanying laboratory exercises are appropriate for high school and introductory college chemistry classes. These exercises may be enhanced by presenting them in conjunction with a visit to a museum, where objects made by these techniques may be seen. (Two interactive museum projects are also included.) Instructors will find supplementary information for incorporating these activities into the curriculum in the appendix. It is our hope that readers will gain a greater appreciation of both art and chemistry by understanding chemistry’s role in creating art.

Please note: words in boldface type link to the glossary.

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