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Dirt or patina


So far, in this website, not much attention has been given to ideas like function, use, repair, adaptive (re)-use or discard of wearable heritage items. To me however, traces of these phenomena are of great importance in order to fully appreciate these objects. On the silver jewelry items, beadwork, amulets, and other sorts of wearable heritage objects you can often clearly see that the surface has become smooth over the years.

One of the aspects of use and wear is the patina of an object – the way the surface of a piece of jewelry is smoothened and darkened because of its surroundings. It is almost like a second skin on a surface, caused by being touched so many times. This cumulative deposition of surface film may sometimes serve as a hint to the age of an object, and may also indicate the context in which it was used. It is exactly such information that is interesting to me when studying these items. For example, it may show how a veil has been worn by the accumulated patina on the surface of the textile, or where the owner wore the object on her skin. Patina thus shows human interaction and traces of use that have affected the appearance of an object’s surface.

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