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What Is Patina?

What Is Patina?

The word “patina” comes up often in design and decorating, but not everyone knows its meaning.  Read on for a quick review of the word and how to bring it home…

In design, “patina” refers to a weathered or tarnished finish on an item.  Old or antique decorative objects often have a patina to them – which is what makes them so special.  Newer decorative items are sometimes treated to accelerate the appearance of patina on the surface to make the object seem older than it actually is.

Etsy Hacienda Hostess Verdigris Pot

Items made of copper – and not lacquered to protect their finish – will develop a green patina over time; this patina is called “verdigris,” which refers to the green hue that develops on the surface.  While some folks prefer the shiny, warm finish of new copper, many love the verdigris finish of older copper.  A copper patina can be accelerated through the use of various chemicals and approximated through the careful use of paint.  The copper pot above, which I found in the Hacienda Hostess shop on Etsy, weathered naturally over man years in the elements.

Etsy Bailiwick Vintage Urns

Other metal objects – brass, silver or iron – also develop a patina over time.  It may come in the form of rust (in the case of iron) or it may simply be a duller, darker film over the surface of the item.  This patina is highly desirable amongst some collectors, but not everyone loves the look.  Most of the time, a patina can be removed from the surface of an object, either by simply polishing the surface or through the use of special cleaners.  The objects above, found at the Bailiwick Vintage shop on Etsy, were once shiny brass, but have now gathered a rich patina.

Patina can also be seen on wooden objects, both indoors and out.  Antique piano definitely has a patina; it is no longer the same color or sheen as it was when it was first made.  Barn wood is especially popular in home decorating, and its weathered patina is the reason.  The old chest shown below, and found at the Emily Mothra Sue Etsy shop, has seen a lot of use over the years; its character is endearing and evokes fond memories of the past.

Etsy Mothra Sue Weathered Wood Chest

Weathered objects or items with patina can be used in homes of all styles – from the very traditional to the super contemporary.  Mix them with new objects for a great juxtaposition of textures; shiny, glittery items look fantastic when placed next to weathered ones.  No need to clean up those old, inherited pieces; enjoy their patina and display them proudly!

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