Discovering and working with local artisans is a highlight for me. This week I had the privilege of meeting Dan Romo from Studio Romo at his studio in West Oakland. I brought along my 18 year old son because I thought he’d learn something, and I’m so glad I did. My son has a scientific mind, and it was helpful for me to have him there to listen to the chemistry behind the patina process so that he could recap for me later.
Dan specializes in patinas. I’d like to describe patinas simply by saying they are GORGEOUS, but I’ll try to do better here! A patina is basically a treatment on the surface of metal. We use it as an adjective, and a noun but in Dan’s shop, it’s most certainly a verb. It’s a process that is done in layers and steps on cold and hot rolled steel, stainless steel, brass and bronze. It is a by hand process which produces a unique, one of a kind finish.
What is Patina? Patina is defined “a green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period, a gloss or sheen on a surface resulting from age or polishing.” Patina is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of copper, brass, bronze and similar metals and metal alloys or certain stones and wooden furniture, or any similar acquired change of a surface through age and exposure. The metal shown in the above photo illustrates the way exposure may change the color of the metal.
Dan is clearly masterful at this art. Just being in his shop was a visual treat—stacks of metal in different stages of the process lying about, neatly arranged piles of sheet metal waiting to be treated, and scraps of beauty randomly scattered about. Innovative techniques clearly in the works, at every turn.
I left a large unfinished sample of of our Marshmallow pattern cut in a pickled steel with Dan to patina. Two days later, it was done and I walked out with a spectacular piece of perfectly blackened steel with an irregularity that I find appealing. I can’t wait to show this off, and encourage everyone to try out a patina on Modern Metal.