The term ‘verdigris’ comes from the French phrase ‘vert de gris’, which means ‘green of Greece’. As you may have guessed, it was the Greeks and Romans who began deliberately corroding copper to create verdigris, which they scraped off sheet metal and crushed to create artists pigments for paintings, jewellery and ceramics.
Characterised by its rich turquoise hue, verdigris is a patina that forms when copper is exposed to nitric acid, seawater and air. It isn’t really used as a pigment nowadays because it happens to be highly toxic, but you can still see examples of manmade and natural verdigris.
One of the most famous uses of verdigris in sculpture has to be the Statue of Liberty, a colossal copper statue that rests in New York Harbour. Over time, the salty sea breeze billowing off the Atlantic Ocean has turned Lady Liberty green.
Examples of verdigris in architecture can be found all over the world, but the most beautiful has to be the Kulttuuritalo, a famous arts-hub in Helsinki, Finland. The stunning red brick structure contrasts exquisitely with its azure-toned copper roof. Courtesy of renowned architects such as Alvar Aalto, there’s a myriad of copper clad buildings dispersed all over Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
But verdigris isn’t just for buildings, landmarks and large-scale structures. As mentioned earlier, the finish takes a long time to achieve and is poisonous, so realistic faux finishes have been developed so that we can bring a little bit of history and poise into our homes. Most of our verdigris pieces are made from iron or resin and are carefully painted by hand to look like the real thing.
The beauty of a faux verdigris lamp, vase or ornament is that the mottled, textural finish likens the object to a long-lost relic. Not to mention the greenish, coppery hue is utterly mesmerising, luxurious and will complement most schemes. Here are five of our favourite verdigris pieces.
Set of 3 Lama Nested Bowls £255
These bowls will look great placed on metal, marble or natural wood. Crafted from thinly beaten brass, they’re ideal for bringing a pop of colour to a coffee or console table.
Jadis Octagonal Planter £52
Our planters are perfect for displaying bunches of faux flowers. Made from iron, this one is large enough to display one of our faux orchids.
Verus Lamp £246
With a hand-made circular base resembling a gladiator’s shield, this lamp could also be used as a sculpture. Crafted from aluminium, the lamp will chime well in both modern and traditional schemes.
Manzil Coffee Table £1,575
A show-stopping oriental-inspired coffee table that would make a magnificent centrepiece. Hand-crafted from iron, with a mirrored top.
Jadis Wine Rack £156
An unusual wine rack inspired by medieval archaeological finds. This abstract addition can fit twelve wine bottles.
At OKA, we don’t follow trends. Our collections take inspiration from different decades, countries and movements, with the idea that they should blend into your home with ease – complementing both vintage curios and contemporary designs. However, there’s no denying that blue and green home décor is quite de rigueur. Perhaps your verdigris accessories are a continuation of your colour scheme or are there to add a layer of interest; either way, seeing as verdigris has been around for centuries, it’s clear it’s set to stay.