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DIY Decorative Painting Project: Verdigris

Statue of LibertyThe Statue of Liberty’s verdigris is real, but you can recreate the effect with paint. Photo by David Saddler.

There are many ways to use decorative/faux painting techniques to change up the look of your home. These range from the simple (color washes and stenciling, for example) to more complex projects such as painting verdigris effects, to advanced such as faux stone or brickwork. Whatever your level of experience (and patience!), decorative painting offers ways for you to add excitement, color, and depth to your home.

Verdigris finishes are a wonderful way to make new furniture, flower pots, centerpieces, and other objects look like cherished antiques. This type of finish replicates the green patina that copper exhibits after it is outdoors for some time (remember how the Statue of Liberty used to be copper in color? Its green color is caused by verdigris.) Verdigris finishes add a touch of class to garden items, and are also used to add an air of elegant age to a space.

Instructions:

To begin, thoroughly clean and degrease the object that you’ll be painting. If your object is metal, sand it with fine sandpaper and prime it first. This will help the paint to stick.

Apply a coat of metallic paint (copper or gold are good choices); it’s okay to be a little imprecise and have obvious brush strokes if they occur. Let this coat dry, and then lightly sponge on a coat of dark green paint. You want the base color to show through here, so don’t be too thorough.

Let the green paint dry, and then sponge on a coat of light green paint. The principle of imprecision applies here, too—you want the other colors to show through beneath it. Let the light green paint dry and have a look at the object. You can adjust the look by dabbing on some more of any color you’ve used.

After you’re pleased with the results, apply a coat of watered down blue-grey latex paint; while still wet, blot this coat with a paper towel. Once the paint is entirely dry, spray it once or twice with a coat of clear acrylic finish to seal the job.

Verdigris is just one of the many decorative interior painting techniques you can use to add elegance to your home. The best part? If your item gets a scratch or ding on it, you can simply add some more paint. You don’t even have to match the colors precisely, since a little shabbiness adds to the authentic aged look of the item.

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