Creating a Faux Verdigris Finish

It's easier than you think

If you like the look of aged copper but can only afford cast aluminum--or even plastic--then you can fool everyone into THINKING you could afford the real thing. All it takes is paint. Don't worry if you're not artistic; you don't need to be. It even helps if you're naturally messy. But the results are impressive.

Gold or copper spray paint
Dark green latex paint
Robins egg blue latex paint
Mint green latex paint
Mineral spirits
Ochre spray paint
Dry plaster
Two sponges (natural sea sponges)

Spray your item with the gold or copper spray paint. Complete coverage is not necessary, but try to make it fairly even. Some of this metallic finish will show through in the end and create the illusion that there is real copper beneath the verdigris; there will be enough finish covering it that gold paint will do if copper is unavailable. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Now take the dark green latex and thin it so that you have 4 parts water and 1 part paint. Brush this loosely over the piece, using up and down strokes to imitate rainfall. Do not cover everything, and do not worry if the paint runs--it should. Actually, if you want the appearance of lightly weathered copper and have used copper paint for your undercoat you could stop now.

Next take the robins egg blue paint and the mint green paint. Scoop out a measured portion of each and transfer to a container. Thin each with mineral spirits (YES, you read that right!)--about 1 part mineral spirits to 4 parts paint. Stir in the whiting until you have a semi-stiff paste. I'd love to be able to give you exact amounts, but a lot depends on whether you are doing a whole set of tables and chairs or a small pot.

Now take one sponge in each hand and dip one in the blue mix, and one in the green. Dab them all over the piece. You can let the colors overlap, and you can leave some parts bare. be as sloppy as you like, This is NOT a job for neatniks. The effect when you have the piece more or less covered should be random and blotchy, with some dark green and gold still showing through. Work quickly as you want the paint to still be damp to wet when you are done. If you are doing a large piece do it in sections, working from the top.

Now take a watering can of water and drizzle it gently over the piece. Everything will run together, and a lot of the paint will come off. Actually, you will see more of the metallic paint than the image here shows you when this is done.

While the piece is still damp take the dry plaster and press it into any recessed areas and grooves in the piece to simulate the white, crumbly look of aged verdigris. Don't worry if some plaster falls on the flatter surfaces as this is quite realistic.

Finally, stand waaaay back and aim your can of ochre spray paint at random parts of the piece. You want only a very light misting with no distinct lines.

Note: Neither of the above two steps are essential, but they really do add to the realism of your finish.

Now let it dry and stand back and be amazed at what you can do with paint.