Whether it’s a sundial, statue, or humble pot, an aged stone ornament encrusted with moss and the residue of age enriches and adds a mellow focus to any outdoor setting. Patina is a great way of showing the age of an antique and giving it a look of age and character.

From the earliest times, stone ornaments have played a key role in garden landscapes. The majority on the market today are made from artificial stone and date from the late 19th century onwards. Manufactured in moulds, often replicating earlier stone-carved originals, vintage ornaments may already have a weathered look and, if possible, are best left to nature to enhance. Patina is the effect caused by this ageing process.

But more recently made and (heaven forbid) older ornaments have had the patina cleaned off. These can end up looking incongruously new and out of place. If you are too impatient to wait for the effects of the weather and seasons, there are plenty of ways to speed things up and transform them into something glorious.

Want to bring your stone ornaments inside? Check out our guide to how to incorporate garden antiques into your interior design.

How to create patina on furniture and ornaments

  1. Black acrylic or emulsion paint
  2. Water
  3. Yoghurt
  4. Well-rotted manure, garden compost or soil
  5. Gloves
  6. Bucket
  7. Decorator’s paint brush
  8. Moss
  1. Make a very weak solution of water and black acrylic or water-based emulsion paint (to resemble dirty water) and apply to the surface of the ornament. Allow the wash to dry, then reapply if you wish to darken certain areas further.
  2. Once you are happy with the base colour, mix yoghurt in a bucket with equal amounts of water and manure, compost or soil (the quantity will depend on the size of your ornament) to create a thick and murky paste.
  3. Wearing gloves, use a paint brush to apply the paste generously to the ornament, paying particular attention to any contours, creases and folds where the moss would naturally take most vigorous hold.
  4. Rub the surface with a handful of moss to spread the spores.
  5. Carefully place the ornament in a moist and shady spot to encourage the aging process – under a tree, in a thicket of overgrown grass or even in a hedge are perfect places for moss to grow.
  6. Burying small ornaments in the ground, or submerging them in a muddy pond before you start the aging process, are alternative ways of hurrying things along.

Find out how to spot a fake antique here.