The Elegance of Patina

New objects have an effusive glow, freshness and flawlessness that have a strong allure to our innate sense of the imperfect nature of life. Because they cannot remain new for long, new things have a transient rarity. Things seem to have the greatest value when new and once something is only a few scant steps in time older, culture seems to teach, it loses value. Ironically, new things are not the things that go with us through life or comfort us when we are troubled. During time of need or loneliness we gather our weather-worn memories, long-time friends and heritage around us. Although the glow of youth is appealing, it cannot be compared with the quality acquired with age.

Patina is the oxidized surface of metal, such as copper and bronze. This process happens naturally and very slowly. It transforms the glowing and fresh surface of the metal to a dull and opaque sheen. Then, when left alone, the surface blooms with a rich mosaic of hue and tone. The best patina is acquired when the object is exposed to the raw elements; the fundamental forces of weathering and extremes create depth and character in patterns unique to the object itself. Patina has a multi-layered and delicate beauty, but is not fragile.

The idea of patina extends beyond metals. It is also a concept and a principle. Old, well-worn clothes comfort us in ways that newly-crafted ones never can… the unexperienced fabrics feel foreign and stiff against the skin. Only after numerous wearings, washings and shared experiences, can the article and our bodies establish a comfortable relationship. Faces, too, gain patina through time. This type of patina goes by other names: character, maturity, experience. Aged furniture, ancient flowerpots and historic buildings develop a more beautiful appearance once they have centuries of life lived. 

Although society appreciates the qualities inherent in youth, and new objects, it is patina that is treasured. And rare. It imparts uniqueness, depth and timeless beauty. It is not so much a process that takes things away, as much as it is a process that gives.