A patina is a coating of various chemical compounds such as oxides or carbonates formed on the surface of metal or other material. Often this is due to exposure to weather. The word "patina" comes from the Latin word meaning "shallow dish". For many works of art the patina adds to its value. In many cases, the artist wanted the work to acquire a patina over time.
A patina layer takes many years to develop under natural weathering. Buildings in damp climates will develop patina layers faster than ones in dry areas. The facades of many buildings are made of copper, brass or bronze, for example. These will produce different colors after natural weathering. Copper takes on a natural green or blue-green patina. Bronze takes on a brown color. Early civilizations used bronze extensively. The Bronze Age is named for it. In the United States, bronze was rarely used in buildings before the American Civil War. Marble, especially white marble, was used in classical Greek and Roman statues. It takes on a light golden patina over time.
Often, antique and well-used firearms will develop a patina on the steel after the bluing, parkerizing, or other finish has worn off. Firearms in this condition are generally considered more valuable than ones that have been re-blued or parkerized. The patina protects the firearm from the more damaging rust that would occur if the patina were polished off. Rust is sometimes valued as a patina. Examples are rat rods, custom cars and meant to look like early 1940s hot rods. They glorify rusted hot rods that have an almost cartoonish appearance. Some are actually rusted metal while others have a faux (false) finish intended to look like rust.
Copper items, lamps, fixtures and outdoor projects can be made to look weathered by use of paints or chemicals. For example, a 50/50 mix of ammonia and white vinegar will give copper an aged patina. Architects and craftspeople use copper sulfate on copper items to make them look old. Patina Green is another product used to give copper an instant aged look. Woodworkers and wood finishers mix their own wood stains. This is to match finishes on wood furniture to the same color, tone and patina of the original finish.
- Oxford Dictionary of English, ed. Angus Stevenson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 1302
- Jonathan Gilmore, The Life of a Style: Beginnings and Endings in the Narrative History of Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), p. 88 & nn.
- Margot Gayle; et al., Metals in America's Historic Buildings (Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Cultural Resources, Preservation Assistance, 1992), p. 27
- Ancient Stones: Quarrying, Trade and Provenance , eds. Marc Waelkens; Norman Herz; Luc Moens (Leuven: University Press, 1992), p. 278
- Dennis W. Parks, Hot Rod Body and Chassis Builder's Guide (Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Co.; Motorbooks, 2009), p. 70
- Marie Browning, Inspired by the Garden (Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books, 2004), p. 115
- Janet Marinelli, 'Restoration Products', Old-House Journal, Vol XVII, No. (May/June 1989), p. 54
- More Finishes and Finishing Techniques, ed. Fine Woodworking (Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1997), p. 53