I am in the process of coloring the barrel. I heat this over a charcoal fire in order to get the temperature high enough to turn the steel a blue. As I bring the heat up, the barrel changes from a straw brown, to a darker shade, then tinged with a deep purple blue, switching over entirely to blue. More heat, and the steel goes to a pale blue, and then gray. These colors are separated by only a few degrees of temperature. I found I had to keep an eagle eye on the barrel, moving it constantly, to avoid hot spots and sudden color changes. Yikes. After a couple of months of engraving and inlaying gold, you can imagine I’d be nervous about messing up all that work.

In the photo below, you can just see the barrel starting to turn from the brownish to purple. The charcoal is “Cowboy” charcoal, made from wood chunks. The briquette style might have impurities that could affect the workpiece, so I played it safe with the real wood charcoal.


Below is a picture of the muzzle end of the barrel, with the gold and the darkened steel. I found some ick on the barrel, possibly from the cloth I was wiping the hot barrel with. So, I will polish this up bright again, and put it back in the fire. I’m disappointed that it got a little screwed up, but nothing that a little elbow grease and time can’t fix. I’ll post more pictures when I get it done.