A painted verdigris finish mimics the green patina or crust of copper sulfate that forms on copper, brass and bronze that has been exposed to air or sea water over a long period of time. 

The technique used to create this look can be built up slowly to establish a soft verdigris, or it can be multi layered to establish an aged look. Because the coloration can catch and collect in the dimensional areas, surfaces best suited for this technique are ones with carved or recessed areas of texture. Rooms with garden themes, such as a breakfast room, patio, solarium or sun room, are excellent places in the home to design with a patina verdigris finish. Furniture and accessories with dimensional qualities will display this technique at it's best.

Prime the surface to seal and protect it. Base coat the surface with a couple of coats of black in an acrylic or latex semi gloss paint. This dark value provides a solid background for the copper to be placed over. Sand lightly between coats. Let the base coat thoroughly dry before proceeding.

Verdigris:  Copper/Bronze Base Coat - Dark Green Latex - Light Blue - Off White Latex - Raw Umber

After base coating your object, in our case a table lamb base, coat with a stippling effect all over the entire surface, including recessed areas.

Using a good clean rag, dab and stipple the effect, not removing all the paint. Leave it to dry.

Apply the light blue latex using a random brush stroke.

Using another clean rag, dab some of the lighter color off, exposing the first and copper/bronze color beneath.  Leave it to dry.

Apply the off white latex, thinned with roughly 30% water, to make it slightly transparent. Leave it to dry.

Using a kitchen scrubby, take off some of the top finishes to expose the copper/bronze in random locations or in areas where wear would normally occur.


To summarize:   As a final touch you can use an old tooth brush to lightly splatter the piece with thinned raw umber.

The verdigris technique imitates the oxidation that occurs on bronze and copper statues and ornaments that have been exposed to the elements. Areas of low relief take on a light green tone and other parts appear medium green. Because they are most often polished, the ridges of the relief retain a little of the bronze's original goldish color. 

This technique is wonderful on three dimensional objects such as small statues, ornaments and moldings. It is also a good method to use for imitating oxidized copper and zinc.



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Surface Preparation

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Materials and tools