Perfect or Patina?

The iron horse (below)  languished at the bottom of the ocean off the Jersey shore until

it was discovered, along with many other small treasures, by a deep-sea-diving antique

dealer.  Its charm is so great that I have never wanted to part with it.

Would anyone else have chosen this rusty old downspout?  It is one of the oldest
downspouts in my large collection. The fact that its top is a bit bashed and I have
had to glue its original embellishments back on a few times has only made me
love it more.
Or this worn out puti? There is real beauty under the fabulous old paint.  It is nice
to see the cracks and texture in the straw-plaster mix and find parts of the iron
wire structure, that help to make permanent what really is so delicate, peeking out in
My best frame? Not for everybody. And, the gilded lion who perches inside it once graced
something far fancier than I’d ever possess. Unless covered in layers of paint and grunge.
The beautiful mirrored glass fragments with the deeply-cut stars were originally owned,
in the same broken condition, by a dancer with the New York Ballet who must have
loved them as much as I do. His downsizing (at a sale run by the fabulous Janet Sherwood
of Antiques at 30B) was my good luck and, while I’ve moved them around many times
over the last 15 years, I have never considered, even under the greatest of customer
pressure, letting these lucky stars leave my house.
Alligatoring!  Nice!  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, of course, and alligatoring…one
of the many expressions of patina… is one that I always hope to find.
Most people don’t want lamps in this deteriorating state. But, “looks good, works good,
is good”, that’s what I say. The tests of form and function are both satisfied and so am I.
And I guess they wouldn’t pick this copper flag pole topper out of the crowd, either. Or
should I just admit that it is an industrial plunger and move on? Where there’s patina,
who needs a fancy title?
Patina with writing? I love it! This colorful early washtub is a testament to our
longing for beauty in our work-a-day lives, the hope for little pleasures to make
what could be a dreary chore more fun.
Zinc labeling on wood. Old gray paint. Good as it gets.
Nothing like a whole pile of patina to make my heart sing.  So many people stopped
on their way down our country road to ask when our sale started that we had to
pitch a tent, hidden behind one of the barns, to temporarily store this huge overflow
from a week’s worth of shopping at Brimfield.
Some would say that these doors had seen better days. They would be wrong!
Raggedy old her? Right up my alley!
Her, too…same alley.
Mighty good pickins in some of those alleys!
Why, oh, why did I sell this cupboard? Yes, I know it is the top half of a cupboard.
But, so what? Its proportions are good and just look at the layer upon layer of
whites, grays, blues over nice old pine.
And this one? Sooo pretty. And, look here: while the previous cupboard was the
top half, this one is the side half… cut down the middle. See the bottom rail? When
it was whole, it had a traditional inverted heart-shaped skirt. A clever fix for a
piece that must have been too damaged to retain its full width.
What about this cupboard? The paint is original on all of these, I swear that it’s
true. The way that the paint has re-arranged itself on this one is a feast for the
patina-loving eye.
At least I still have the weather vane (below).  It is not old, of that I am sure.
But it is extremely well made from old patina-ready iron parts and I couldn’t be
happier with it even if it were celebrating its hundredth birthday.
And, this one! I took it to my shop, then thought better of it and brought it right back home
where it belongs.
But, this pretty-in-pink shutter panel, one of 8…..gone with the wind.
Same sad story for the pink-over-green sofa. Gone but not forgotten.
Potato Chips? Paint chips? Who’s asking?
Another metal label. Why don’t they do this any more? I mean I know it’s about cost, but
what a shame to see bar codes on hard-to-remove stickers where craftsmanship used to
Green, over red, over white, over who knows what else? So many layers, so carefully
chosen, showing for all they are worth and knowing full well that things of beauty
have no fear of time.

And, patina does take time…
Sometimes the elements help.
But, wait! Did I say that patina takes time? I guess that I meant that SOMETIMES
patina takes time. While other times it just needs a little skill: like in the case of this
cupboard, currently at the Hudson Supermarket,  that benefited so greatly from
Ken’s magic brush.
I’ve never chosen perfect things and, to be honest, while I can appreciate items of
high quality and fine finishes, I don’t particularly care to own them.  They seem
ordinary,  a little hum-drum, too high maintenance. Maybe too easy. Definitely
not as much fun. Sometimes it is price that makes me choose the fixer-uppers, the
pieces begging to be turned into something else. Sometimes it is just the imperfection
itself that reels me in. I do know for sure, though, that given the choice between
perfect and patina, I will choose patina every time. Or, maybe that’s just another
way of saying that patina IS perfect.

    One comment

    1. Oh, the wonderful rusted patina on the iron horse is magnificent!…And on the downspout! I love the alligatoring on the chest and all the cupboards are divine.
      I can only imagine how your imagination was in full throttle at Brimfield. You and Ken are so creative and seem to turn everything into a masterpiece. Wonderful photos!

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