| |

Painting Verdigris on a Shiny Brass Light Fixture

How to paint a shiny brass light fixture to look like it has an aged verdigris finish. This faux finish paint technique can easily be done with inexpensive craft paints. 

I finally did it!  It has been a long time since I last mentioned it, but the shiny brass light that hangs over my kitchen island has a new look.

I like the look of unique light fixtures, especially ones with age and character and that have a bit of greenish patina.  Do you remember the cheap-o brass builder chandelier I aged with paint a few years ago?

I truly disliked the fixture, but with no budget to buy new, I experimented and painted it to look old. I added strings of crystals and it has become one of my favorite DIY projects.

So when I updated my kitchen cabinets last summer with brushed nickel hardware, my shiny 15 year old polished brass light fixture needed an update. I decided to transform it with paint to look like verdigris.

What is Verdigris?

ver-di-gris [vur-di-grees]   noun

Verdigris is a green or bluish patina that forms on copper, brass or bronze surfaces exposed to the atmosphere fr long periods of time, consisting principally of basic copper sulfate.

How to paint a-Verdigris-on-a-brass-light-fixture

Painting verdigris is easier than it looks.

It is achieved by layering different colors of paint onto a surface.

How-to-age-metal-so-it-looks-like-Verdigris

Here are my inspiration photos I collected from tumblr, BH&G, and Traditional Home.

As you can see verdigris can take on a few different hues – light to dark greens.  

I like the color of the square lights in the bottom photo and tried to achieve that color for my kitchen island light. It is not too light or dark and has a hint of copper showing through.

To paint the light I used: white, light and medium shades of turquoise, emerald green, and metallic copper paint.

The process of painting verdigris is nothing more than dabbing, brushing, and blotting a mixture of paint mixed with glaze onto the surface and then taking a step back to take a look to determine where more or less color and texture is needed.

The actual painting time for transforming the light was about an hour.  It took me a few days to complete it only because I had to let it dry between each coat.

How to Paint a Faux Verdigris Finish

Having a photo to keep as a reference as you paint will help guide you to get the color just right.   Look closely at the layers on the piece in a photo or a actual item to choose your colors.

How to paint a light fixture in an aged verdigris color

I could not create this effect without these 2 items, they are what make the paint take on a translucent and layered look.

The first is clear glazing liquid.  I found Simply Glaze at my local True Value Hardware.  If you are not familiar with what a glaze is or does, here is the 101.

What is Clear Paint Glaze?

Clear glaze is a water-based medium that when mixed with paint creates a transparent paint.  When glaze is mixed with paint, not only does it add transparency to the paint, but also allows you more time to move the paint around into crevices and detailed areas to achieve a desired color look or finish.

How much paint in ratio to glaze in a mix will change the transparency.  More glaze = more transparency.  Less glaze = more opaque. This is because it dries slowly.  Glaze is not shiny by itself, but will take on the sheen of the paint you mix with it.

Natural-SEa-Sponges-used-to-paint-a-faux-verdigris-finish

The other item that is needed when painting a verdigris finish is Natural Sea Sponges.   Note the plural in sponges.  Most sponges are sold in a size that fits into the palm of your hand.

When painting a large surface like a wall in a faux finish, a large size sea sponge is fine to use.

When doing smaller items, smaller sized sea sponges are better to use.

I like this bag of small sponges because to get a realistic look, you need to have many different textures and patterns. Using a few sea sponges will create a variety of pattern and shapes being applied.

If you use the same sponge and the same side of it when dabbing on paint, it will create the same look. You need to create variation.

I sometimes rip the smaller sponges and use the new ripped edge to add another texture to the pieces I paint.

Supplies-needed-for-painting-verdigris

These are the steps I used to paint the faux verdigris, but no two painted finishes will look the same.

To make it look realistic, you need to layer each color on to the surface and then create a little bit of texture with the sea sponge at the same time.

When working with a sea sponge to paint, wet it first, then wring it out.  This will make the sponge pliable and ready to use to apply paint.

supplies needed:

  • Paint  –  I used acrylic craft paints in the following colors:
    • White, Greenish Turquoise, Pale Turquoise, Medium Turquoise, Decor Arts in Plantation Green, Folk Art in Metallic Copper
  • Old splayed bristle paint brush
  • Small tipped paint brush
  • Mixing bowls
  • Spray bottle of water
  • Paint stirrer
 I chose to work on my light while it was still hanging.  It kept the project easier for me as I didn’t need Ed, my electrician to take it down and replace it once I was done. I placed painter’s tape around the ceiling mount to protect the ceiling from paint.
how-to-age-a-brass-light-fixture

1. Clean the light surface well to remove all grease and dust; let dry.

2. With a small sea sponge or a brush, brush on or dab a coat of medium green turquoise paint. Do not use glaze. Let dry.

Tutorial-on-how-to-paint-a-fake-verdigris-finish-on-metal

3. In a mixing bowl, mix 1 part light turquoise paint to 3 parts glaze. Mix well. I later transferred this mix to a divided tray so I could hold 2 colors in my hand as I worked.

How-to-paint-a-shiny-brass-light-fixture-in-a-Verdigris-aged-finish

4.  In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of white paint together.

Apply all over the surface of the light with a small sea sponge.  (wet and wring out sea sponge before using it, this will make it absorb paint) Let it get drippy and show the texture of the sponge. This drippy look mimics how rain would hit real verdigris. Let dry.

You can even use a spray bottle of water to spray the just painted surface to make the paint/glaze drip a little.

How-to-mix-paint-and-glaze-together

5.  Mix medium turquoise paint and glaze together, Mix well.  I used a ratio of about 50% each.

6. Apply the medium turquoise paint and glaze mixture with a sea sponge. Dab it all over, then blot sponge on paper towel and go back to remove some of the paint. Keep doing this until you like what you see.

7. Apply the light turquoise paint and glaze mixture again.  Repeat the application and dabbing off process as you did for previous layers/coats until you like what you see. Let dry.

how-to-paint-a-verdigris-aged-finish-on-brass

7. Mix Plantation or an emerald green color and glaze together – 1 tablespoon of each.

Paint-on-a-verdigris-finish

8. Wet sponge with water and wring out before dipping in paint. Apply it to the light with a small wet sea sponge.  Use dabs as well as just rub the sponge over the surface to create different textures to the layer of paint.

Let dry for about 5 minutes and then begin to dab some of it off. Blot sponge on paper towel and keep removing paint to expose the under layers of color.

Remove more or less depending on the overall color you are trying to achieve.

Paintng-a-chandelier to age it

It should look something like this after you remove some of the emerald green. You can stop right here or if you want to add the look of copper, follow the directions below.

Painting-verdigris-with-copper-craft-paint

9.  Dip a clean damp sea sponge into metallic copper paint. Dab it all over the surface of the light, making sure to move it as you dab so you don’t dab the same sponge pattern all over.

Let it dry for about 5 minutes then using a dry splayed bristle paint brush, quickly and lightly brush it over the surface to remove some of the copper color.

Dab brush on paper towel a few times to remove the paint, then go back and keep lightly brushing over the surface until you like what you see.

Walk around it to make sure you don’t have any blotches of solid color anywhere, If you do, wet the paint brush to dilute the paint a bit and lightly dust over the surface again until you the blotch of color is blended in.

It is OK to have colors heavier in some areas as this will make it look more realistic.

Copper-Verdigris-paint-finish-tutorial

If at any point you don’t like the color, just add another layer of the color glaze/paint you like over it.  Dab it on, spray some water over the surface to mimic how rain would fall on the surface.

I used about 10 layers of paint – some very thin and transparent, others more opaque.

Painting-Verdegris-on-a-light-fixture

Here is my newly transformed kitchen island light.  I did not seal it since I want it to look a bit chalky, just like real verdigris.

If you are thinking about painting verdigris or any type of painted finish on an item, experiment first on something you no longer like or pick up an item at the thrift store to try the paint technique on.

The biggest obstacle when painting anything to look real, is ourselves – we are our own worst critics.

Take a step back and have someone else look at it.  If they say – wow that looks so real – your job is done!

Want to Create an Aged Brass Look?

If you want to age shiny brass, but still want it to look gold, check out this instant brass aging technique.

If you like the look of brushed brass, try this bright to brushed brass technique.

Here is how to create an old and rusted brass finish on brass.

 Sharing this brass chandelier before and after makeover with Tip Junkie  and  Jennifer Rizzo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

39 Comments

  1. I painted my wall fixture to look verdigris and love it however while painting it was frustrating that sometimes the paint would just come right off. I was wondering how to not have that happen, and also should I apply a matte varnish over it. Thanks for any insights.

    1. Hi Donna – You can seal with a matte varnish. Minwax Polycrylic has a matte. It is water-based and won’t yellow the paint over time. Any water-based matte sealer will be OK. As far as the paint coming off, does this happen as you were dabbing more paint on to create layers or after the piece was dry? It should not come off after the piece is dry.

  2. Hello, I’m wondering if this technique can be done on items that are shiny brass and also black painted metal curtain rods? My living room needs an update and I can’t afford to buy new….lamps to switch plates and would it be over kill to change all of the now brass to this style?

    1. Hi Phyllis – The verdigris treatment can be done on any surface, not just metal since you are layering on paint, the surface will be covered. So you can paint any item – shiny brass, wood to your black metal curtain rods. :-)

  3. I used this method to add patina to two sad Garden mermaids who had been painted white. I sprayed them with a coat of hammered copper for a base before beginning and it peeks through in just a few tiny places for a nice effect.. The final effect was very satisfactory. Now the mermaids can return to their beachside backyard with pride. Thank you for these easy directions.

    1. Hi Jean –

      The light fixture I painted I bought at a lighting store in suburban Philadelphia about 15 years ago. If you want to get something similar, look for 2-light bar or billiard light fixtures. Here is a similar one in a silver finish I found on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2DNO3pS

  4. Came in via Pinterest again. I love to read your work.
    I’m heading out to do this to two scones I love, but, oh, the shine! :)

    I wanted to give you an excellent, invisible sealer. Paint base. The stuff used for dark pigments. Get Latex, Flat, (I go Exterior for water & UV proofing) DARK paint base.
    Paint it on white and it dries invisible. You cannot tell where you put it. It’s perfect for places that can get dusty or greasy, because you can clean the surface with Windex or whatever and the finish is safe.

    I love your lamp. Have you considered smoking the shades to age them a bit? That would be done on the inside of the shade for a more authentic look.

  5. I have a very heavy table and chairs that are metal in a verdigris finish. The top is glass and the chair seats are upholstered. We have used this in our kitchen for 25 years. The verdigris finish has worn off from use on the top part of the arms and the top of the chair backs from use. What type of paint would I use on these pieces that could withstand constant contact with hands and arms. Help…

  6. Oh I love this and will be trying this technique .
    Your tutorial is very easy to follow . Thank you so much !?

  7. LOVE THIS PROJECT. Thank you for such detailed instructions. I followed them to the letter and my project turned out fantastic. I can’t stop smiling.

    1. Hi Tracy – Thanks for taking the time to tell me that my tutorial helped you with your project. Paint and a few easy techniques can do some amazing things. Smiles are good! :-)

    1. Hi Susan – I would not use Mod Podge instead of glazing medium. Mod Podge is more of a glue sealer, where glazing liquid is a tintable medium that allows you to paint transparent colors over a base color. It is not a sealer. You need to protect it with poly or wax after you put it on.

  8. What an awesome transformation! I love the shape of the light fixture (great lines) so you saved a bundle transforming it to look like aged copper. Excellent tutorial!

  9. Thanks for this one! I have several pieces of old brass that I intend to convert to verdigris!. I have always bought plastic terra cotta pots at Home Depot ( be sure to get the ones with the dull finish) and have “washed” them with pale turquise and olive housepaint for an old weathered look which lasts for years and years. But never came up with a technique for indoor items that you see close-up. I can see so many uses for your rich indoor verdigris finish. There are so many things I parted with over the years that would have been great transformed with verdigris. Oh, well. There are ALWAYS new projects.

  10. Hi Diane,

    This project was the answer to my brass chandelier dilemma. Your instructions are always excellent and I’m sure I’ll end up with a chandelier I am happy with. If you would, please clarify the paint colors that you used. Were the Greenish, Pale and Medium Turquoise colors another brand than Decor Arts? I see that Plantation Green Was definitely Decor Arts. I really want my project to look like yours when I’m done so I wanted to get the right colors. Diane, I think you are the best blogger out there in this field. I’m so glad to see you gaining recognition! Keep up the fantastic work! Thanks.

    1. Thanks Shirley –

      I didn’t use craft paint for some of the colors, I mixed them using leftover paint I had from other projects. I am going to the craft store later today and can find a few that are the colors that I used so I can give you a color name. I will get back to you later today or tomorrow with the names of the paint.

      1. Thanks Diane. You’re so kind, which coupled with your incredible talent, makes you one of a kind.

    2. Hi Shirley –

      Here are the paint color names that are closest to the greenish, pale, and medium turquoise colors I used. Greenish: Americana Sea Glass or Folk Art Patina. Pale – Americana Calypso Sky or mix a little Americana Bahama Blue into one of the greenish colors to get the right color. For the medium: Americana Turquoise Waters. Keep dabbing and don’t be afraid you will mess up. Keep layering it until you like what you see.

        1. It’s done and I love it! Started out a little nervous but as I went along, I was dabbing confidently! My chandelier was challenging because it had eight lights but the result was worth the effort. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration and instructions.

  11. Wow, that is gorgeous! I might do this on my wall lamps when I get tired of the ORB. And some other stuff too.

  12. I found your blog a few weeks ago during my search for some guidance on chalk paint adhesion. I love your verdigris finish on this fixture. It’s gorgeous. Does it have a strong adhesion to the metal? I suppose it doesn’t matter much for something that will never be touched. I’m spraying painting some outdoor light fixtures I found for $2, using Rustoleum’s oil rubbed bronze. The finish was beautiful until I used their new clear matte sealant, which ruined it. The result was textured and awful, so I’m sanding it down and recoating in oil rubbed bronze. I contacted Rustoleum and am getting a full refund. If you wanted to seal the fixture, what would you use? Thanks!

  13. This is my first visit to your site and all I can say is “WOW!” This tutorial is really well done, and very inspiring. I can’t wait to browse through the rest of your site. Your images are nice and bright too!

  14. Your light is beautiful! Thank you for sharing the how-to, and most importantly, about the True Value glaze. I have glaze on my living room walls. All set to do touch-ups, and the only thing I could find was a small jug of antiquing glaze. I didn’t think it was the right stuff I’d used before, and it was extremely costly, so I foolishly used acrylic glaze from my paint stash. Needless to say, the wall looks WORSE, but at least I know now where to get the right stuff I need, so a proper redo is on the horizon! Thanks for sharing!

  15. You always have wonderful, detailed, step-by-step instructions, which is great for the slower crowd like me! ;-) Love this project! Can’t wait to do mine.

  16. The kitchen lamp looks beautiful! I love verdigris finishes on home and garden things! I used to do ceramics that way. Once I made a little ceramic dish and bird figure into a garden bird feeder and it truly resembled aged bronze or copper. This is a great way to update a fake brass lamp or any fixture who’s old finish you no longer like! Thank you for a great tutorial! Happy Spring!!

  17. Wow Diana, you’re firing on all your creative cylinders at the moment. Great job on the light fitting. It looks amazing. Tricky enough to do the transformation with the fitting in situ but to take stage photos as well – you are my hero ! Looking forward to more IMOS postings. Best wishes from The Dordogne, France.