Real Verdigris

Real Verdigris

Having recently written about verdigris, and the art of creating its look as a faux finisher and decorative artist, I was attuned to a variety of naturally occurring verdigris surfaces I saw all over beautiful Balboa Park, on a recent trip to sunny San Diego.  Such beautiful texture, hue, and depth of surface,  to say nothing of the sense of history, and paradoxically, timelessness, that the oxidation process produces…or, shall we say, creates.

Here are some Varieties of Verdigris for your viewing pleasure:

Remember, verdigris is  the natural patina which forms on the surface of  copper, bronze, or brass as it is exposed to air and water, wind and weather over time.  In essence, it is the weathering, or tarnishing of these metals, and shows itself in a variety of green hues. The verdigris above was produced by the slow tarnish of the bronze equine sculpture seen at top, galloping  into a cloud-studded sky. The green-hued substance has, over time, formed on the bronze surface, and dripped onto the stone base of the statue, lending it an air of age, mystery and grandeur.

Above, the powdery residue of verdigris has formed predominantly at the base of this bronze sculpture.  For the scientifically-minded, verdigris is a “complex chemical mixture of compounds, complexes and water, with  primary components of copper salts of acetate, carbonate, chloride, formate, hydroxide and sulfate.  Secondary components include metallic salts, acids, organic and mineral.

A soft patina of blueish verdigris is forming over the bronze surface of this Barbara Hepworth sculpture, further texturing its surface, and adding visual depth. The addition of the natural blueish-green pigmentation also ties the piece into the landscape of the sculpture garden where it resides.  Living outside really does help that verdigris process along!

The same could be said of this wall relief.  Perhaps the verdigris process is moving more slowly here because this piece is somewhat sheltered by the pavilion style open-air cafe  where it is installed.

The heavily verdigrised sculpture rising out of the cafe’s pool provides a perch for a brightly-hued visitor.  Here both the elements of air and water are definitely at play in creating the strong verdigris hues.  Both the surrounding chairs and the duck’s feet add a complementary pop of color to the scene.

This fellow just seemed so comfortable on its verdigris perch.   Its green head feathers, the blue pool, and saturated verdigris coloration come together to create a scene of both harmony and humor. The feeling is peaceful, yet alert, as we know the duck could take flight and vanish from the picture at any moment.  While watching this beauty, my friend Janet said, “I am communing with the duck”.  I hope, through this post, you can, too!

Have you seen a beautiful, or timeless verdigris surface on one of  your daily jaunts lately?

If you feel so inspired, share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all communing with this thing called Life, together.

Happy Verdigris!

 

 

 

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Varieties of Verdigris

Varieties of Verdigris

The word “verdigris” comes from the Middle English vertegrez, from the Old French verte grez, an alteration of vert-de-Grèce, or “green of Greece”.  The modern French spelling  is vert-de-gris. What a  romantic and poetic linguistic lineage.
Verdigris is  the natural patina which forms on the surface of  copper, bronze, or brass as it is exposed to air and water, wind and weather over time.  In essence, it is the weathering, or tarnishing of these metals, and shows itself in a variety of green hues.  As a faux finisher, and decorative painter, the “look” can be achieved through the controlled (or not) application of chemicals to these metals, which form a blueish green “deposit’, or pigment.   Indeed, verdigris was used as a pigment to create greens in paintings and other art objects.  Until the 19th century, verdigris was the most vibrant green pigment (paint colorant) available.  It’s earliest known use was in the 14th Century.

The other way of creating a verdigris finish. i.e., the look of verdigris, is by the simple or not so simple, application of green and other-hued paints manipulated over a base coat. This method, to my way of thinking, is by far the more fun, as  a virtual universe of verdigris can be created.  The effect of painted verdigris is by and large controllable, a claim which cannot always be made for chemical reactions.

The vibrant, yet natural-looking verdigris finish above and below  was created by manipulating one custom-mixed hue of green over an exterior latex base coat: Benjamin Moore’s “Pueblo Brown 2102-30”.  The “verdigris” color is one part Benjamin Moore “Pear Green 2028-40” and three parts “Blue Spa 2052-40 “, drybrushed over a completely dry surface.

The verdigris color is wiped off is some areas, leaving a strie effect, and accentuating the texture of the base coated metal.  The surface textures, shifts of plane, and interplay between base and top colors offer enough variety to make the treatment visually interesting, and believable enough for passers-by to comment on the “copper“!

A verdigris treatment is often associated with copper, but as discussed above, also works with both bronze and brass.  On the door above and below, the client wanted a loose  (“messy” as she termed it!) look, that nonetheless complimented the charming building, and worked with the teal shutters and trim detail.  As the kick plate, address numbers, door knob, and mailboxes are a bronze hue, (as well as details of the light fixture), Benjamin Moore “Aged Bronze 231” was used as a base coat, with three blue to green hues dry-brushed over it to create the effect.

The bright golden-bronze hue provides a nice contrast to the cooler yet still warm greenish-blue flat exterior latex paints layered and manipulated over the darker base.  The textures  as well as the colors had to work in tandem to create a complete, coherent picture, “messiness’ not withstanding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The rails above were base painted in a deep blackish green, Benjamin Moore “Black Forest Green (Exterior ready-made)” latex, then four more colors were applied consecutively over  the base painted surface. First, the coppery-toned Benjamin Moore “Suntan Bronze 1217” was dry-brushed sparingly, then “Cypress Green 509”, followed by “Garden Oasis 699” were stippled,. (All Benjamin Moore exterior latex colors.) Finally, a touch of the custom “Blue Spa 2018-40” and “Pear Green 2052-40” mix mentioned above was added as a subtle accent. The application and layering of five colors in total adds depth and detail to the final finish.

As the balcony railings are partially obscured by trees, and the Clients were less concerned about their appearance,  we opted to use only the two softer greens, “Cypress Green – 509” followed by “Garden Oasis 699” stippled over the same ready-made “Forest Green” base coat.  Because three of the five colors in the steps railings are the same, the color impression looks the same from a distance, an effect we wanted to achieve.

It’s interesting that verdigris, an actual effect of tarnishing and oxidation processes, can result is such  vivid green, teal, and even turquoise colors, as well as beautiful, variegated textures and patina.  It begs the issue of the value, aesthetic or otherwise, of antiquing, aging, even decay.  For what better purpose can we create art, decor and deign, then to both uplift, and deepen the human spirit by raising questions  of beauty and mortality, and the possible connections between the two?

What effect, finish, treatment or application, verdigris or otherwise has touched you with its beauty or other wise lately?  What has caused you to contemplate aesthetics…or, life’s big questions?  How about the relationship between the two?

If you feel so inspired, please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all traveling through this thing called Life, together. Here’s to beauty…in all it’s forms.