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Degrees of verdigris

Project ideas and inspiration from Good magazine

Have a bit of fun playing around with verdigris paint effects and add classical highlights to your summer garden.

Verdigris is the green or greenish-blue patina that naturally occurs over time when bronze, brass or copper is exposed to air or seawater and becomes weathered over time. Typically seen on old metalwork and cast statues, verdigris conjures images of grand European architecture, fabulous old statues and water features in stately gardens by the sea.

Verdigris paint effects

Verdigris effects

Verdigris comes from the Old French vert-de-Grèce, meaning “green of Greece”.

The verdigris touches in my garden are on a rather more humble scale – and achieved using a four-step paint effect that I found became easier to apply the more I experimented with it. I was so happy when I recently spied some spare piping and a curly metal bar stool in a kerbside skip.

Our old villa came with an equally old garden – including some truly ancient, misshaped and unruly roses in dire need of training and support to stop them breaking in the wind. My aim is not to kill these lovely old shrubs and my new verdigris arch and four-pronged objet d’art will be just the thing to help prop up one old rose and start training another into a better shape.

Stool before

Stool with verdigris paint effect

Start with junk objects, such as the unwanted metal bar stool or leftover pipe and you’re free to experiment with paint layers until you get the effect you’re happy with.

Next up, the front gates got a coat of metallic green and a subtle verdigris treatment. I’m on a roll!

What have I discovered along the way? As with any paint effect there’s a certain amount of fakery involved, so for the most convincing look it’s best to limit your projects to outdoor items where verdigris naturally occurs. It also makes sense to only apply the effect to surfaces that are, or could reasonably be, metal.

A terracotta sun face wall-hanging

Terracotta sun face wall-hanging with verdigris paint effect

A terracotta sun face wall-hanging gets a metallic look using Resene Copperhead. The subtle verdigris layer softens and ages the the final effect.

Ceramics are okay, but resist the temptation to try verdigris techniques on a chunky table or chest of drawers that have obviously been made using wood. That wrought iron garden table and chair set you acquired a few years ago that’s now looking a bit dull or dated? Perfect!

The verdigris effect also works best on textured surfaces with deep indentations, so bear this in mind when choosing your object to paint. Keep an eye out for unwanted plumbing pipes or other scrap metal objects that you can upcycle this way. Let the fun begin!

Gate before verdigris paint effect

Gate with verdigris paint effect

Give boring aluminium gates a new look with Resene Metallics paint and a subtle verdigris effect. For details about this project and more, go to

You will need

Step-by-step instructions


Supplies needed
Supplies needed

Step 1
Step 1

Step 2
Step 2

Step 1  Buff your object with a wire brush or sandpaper. Wash off dust or debris and apply a light coat of Resene Galvo-Prime primer. Allow to dry.

Step 2  Paint with a Resene metallic in your chosen shade of copper, bronze or brass. For small items you can use Resene testpots. Allow to dry. Choose a bright metallic such as Resene Bullion for a sparkly final effect.

Step 2b
Step 2b

Step 3
Step 3

Step 4
Step 4

Step 3  Dab on blue and a green paint in Resene shades of your choice. Before the surface is fully dry, rub over with a dry (or if necessary a damp cloth), to soften the effect and reveal the metallic undertone.

Step 4  Using a old toothbrush and a little white paint, watered down, flick on a few spots of white. Spray with water to create a drizzled effect. Add more, or rub more off to get the look you want. You need to work quickly at this stage before the paint dries.

Words and styling Sarah Heeringa. 2014

Download this article as a PDF

Good magazine projects
Wanting to tackle a project at your place but only have a weekend to spare? Get inspired with these projects from Good magazine. Reclaim and upcycle with paint.

View Good projects | View all projects


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