a green and orange patina on a sheet of copper

Patina

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/16/2021

If you’ve ever stopped and admired the ambiance of a vintage object, you should know that you’re not alone. Nowadays, the so-called patina associated with an aged and worn look, is so popular that professionals and DIYers alike go to great lengths to recreate its appearance. However, the meaning of the term has shifted a little over the years and has a much wider application than just describing the green tinge on old metals.

Definition

Commonly, the word patina refers to the natural beautification of an object’s surface material as a result of age and use. The term is typically used to describe a vintage weathered look on objects such as worn down leather or aged antique furniture. More traditionally though, the word also refers to the greenish coloration that appears on the surface of metals, such as copper and bronze. The green color typically appears as a result of age and weathering, although there are techniques for reproducing the appearance of authentic patina. In certain cases and styles, this classic aura of a piece is often considered to add to the value and desirableness of an object, and most collectors avoid restoring items back to their original state.

What’s The Problem With Restoring Patina?

While some people may go out of their way to recreate the look of an aged patina, others may prefer to restore vintage objects to their original condition. However, there are certain objects that could potentially lose incredible historical and monetary value if they were to be restored to their original condition:

  • As the vintage look becomes more popular, authentic objects with natural patina are becoming increasingly more rare and expensive. As a result, there are several professional and DIY methods available to achieve the sought after vintage look on different surface types, including metal, wood, and stone.
  • On the flip side, there are some people who would prefer to restore a vintage object to its original condition by removing the patina. And, of course, there are several methods for cleaning and polishing an object. But, beware that the weathered look of an older object is sometimes the element that makes it most valuable to a collector. 
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