The Aged Beauty Of A Verdigris Patina

By Amanda Bean

Metal with a verdigris patina has an aged beauty that is unique. This protective layer of oxidation is formed over metal like copper, brass and bronze through the years as it is exposed to the air. Products have been developed today that can speed up this natural process. These chemical solutions are able to add patinas to surfaces quickly and efficiently.

True weathering that takes place over years is not that easy to mimic. Copper usually reacts with the elements around it to first form a dull brown haze, and with significant exposure, a vivid green cover. Many individuals use paint techniques to recreate the look and this produces a faux finish. Although it may look like the real thing, the only way for the real effect to occur is when metals oxidize.

Artists in the past appreciated verdigris for its vibrant green color. One method used to hasten the results of oxidation in early days was to hang copper plates in a sealed pot of hot vinegar until a green crust formed. This crust was then scraped off and used to make pigment for painting. It eventually fell out of use as more stable pigments became available.

The process of oxidation is an organic one and no two patinas look exactly alike. Variations occur in the chemical reaction according to conditions under which it takes place and the techniques used. This is part of the charm as each object looks different.

At different stages in the aging process, different colors are achieved. Using products available to accelerate aging, one can achieve the brown or green color, or anywhere in between. Copper becomes a lovely blueish-green color with age and bronze more of a blueish-black.

The required effect may need to be built up gradually, using several thin coats so as to exercise more control. Alternatively, a few thick coats can be used. One can experiment with different techniques and on different surfaces to see what interesting results can be obtained.

Various different applicators may be used to apply these products such as sponges, brushes, rags and sprayers. Trial applications are recommended. One can experiment with many different objects and surfaces. It is often better to use more thin coats than fewer thick coats as one has more control of the effect created.

Dipping the applicator directly into the bottle of product is not recommended. It is much better to pour out an amount into another disposable container for use. Other tips are to make sure that the surface is properly cleaned prior to treatment and to wash hands carefully after application.

A verdigris patina is a flattering finish for many objects, from candlesticks to garden statues. It allows one to add another element to decor accessories and fittings. The fact that products are available to create this effect without having to wait for years, makes it even more appealing.

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