Sunday, May 13, 2012

Faux Finish Tutorial: Verdigris Birdbath

 Verdigris is the common name for a green pigment obtained through the application of acetic acid to copper plates or the natural patina formed when copper, brass or bronze is weathered and exposed to air or seawater over a period of time. 

The most famous example of this is the Statue of Liberty.

When creating a weathered faux finish you have to keep in mind the elements you’re trying to duplicate. 

Because verdigris is the result of water weathering and damage all strokes need to mimic the behavior of water; specifically rain. Gravity, and how water is affected by it, is the key idea to keep in mind when creating believable faux verdigris.

What you’ll need:
~Object (concrete will give the most authentic feel of a heavy cast metal – but you can do this finish on anything). The more raised and recessed patterning on the object, the better the finish will come out.
~Spray Paint: Hunter green
~Acrylic Paints (just a few ounces each): Charcoal Grey, Sage green, turquoise or aqua, metallic bronze or copper
~Dark wood stain (like Walnut)
~paint brushes/ little plastic bowls for paint/ rag for stain
~Spray Clear Coat Acrylic/ Varnish

I started with a plain concrete birdbath inherited from a neighbor.

First I sprayed the entire thing dark green.

Second I used a foam brush to paint the charcoal grey (it looks pale in the photo - because the sun was so bright), painting a starburst shape in the bowl portion and getting some grey into the crevices of the pedestal design.

Third I repeated the starburst pattern in the bowl with a dusty turquoise (painting less area than I had with the grey) and skimming the highest relief of the pattern on the pedestal (so that the recesses remained dark). I mimicked a few “drips” of the blue at the base.

Fourth I repeated the previous step using a sage green (again; covering less area than I had with the blue).

Fifth I applied highlights with the metallic bronze. Note: this will represent “uncorroded” metal – so you are actually trying to denote the least damaged bits – which means the highlights will probably not be at the highest raised points.

After the painting I thought the colors (although beautiful) were too bright and cartoon like in the sun. I dabbed a rag in the wood stain and coated everything to darken and subdue all of the colors.
Lastly I sprayed the entire thing with a clear coat of acrylic to weather proof it. 


  1. Wow! You did an amazing job!

    A | V // vintage blog

  2. I love this, congrats!

  3. Looks great! I will give it a go!

  4. Curious if your birdbath has held up over the years??

    1. Me too! I have also been spray painting bird baths and have used acrylic paint for the tops. I’m having trouble trying to figure out how and what to use to properly seal them?