Care of Bronze Sculpture

Every collector of bronze has the choice of either maintaining a bronze sculpture or letting the bronze, age naturally. Many collectors of bronze prefer that the bronze age naturally, which usually means it will darken or lighten over time dependant on the patina. Other collectors prefer to wax and maintain the bronze to retain the visual effects of the patina. The maintenance below is recommended for my bronze sculptures which have a smooth surface. For bronzes that have textures please refer to the sculptor or gallery where purchased. Please do not hesitate to email or call me if you have any questions.

Materials Required

Wax - Recommend Renaissance Wax or Trewax Brand Paste Wax (clear). Trewax® can be found at most hardware or auto stores. Renaissance® can be ordered from The Compleat Sculptor, www.sculpt.com

Brushes - Soft round bristle brushes, 1-2 inches for small sculpture, 2-3 inches for larger sculpture. Can use flat brushes also. Can be synthetic or natural bristle brushes. Brushes should be new and free from any dirt or oil. Chip brushes recommended.

Buffing cloths - Clean cotton rags. Cloth baby diapers work well for this or the back of a clean cotton t-shirt (cut out the seams). Make sure to use a low lint cloth to keep the sculpture clean.

Never use solvents such as xylene or turpentine to clean bronzes, they will strip the wax coating off and damage the patina.

Never use car waxes that might have abrasives in them. Use a wax recommended for bronze.

Never use household detergents to clean bronzes. If water alone does not work, use a non-ionic or neutral detergent (available at most janitorial supply stores) to remove pollutants from the bronze. Make sure to mix the detergent as recommended on the label in a non-metallic bucket. Make sure to rinse well.

Recommended Maintenance

For an indoor bronze once a year is recommended. Twice a year if in humid or corrosive environments.

For outdoor bronze twice a year is recommended. Humid or acidic areas require three or four times a year.

Application for Indoor Bronzes

Wrap the metal ferrules of the paint brush with masking tape to avoid scratching or dinging the sculpture. Using a soft clean dry cotton cloth wipe the sculpture free of dirt. If there are any fly spots or other contaminants such as food or fingerprints, use a damp cloth with water only and gently rub the sculpture. It is very important that the surface of the bronze be dry prior to waxing. Open your wax and lay the bristles across the wax using a sweeping back and forth motion. Three or four strokes should do it. Do not jab the wax, as this will overload the brush. Place a layer of wax onto the sculpture using a circular motion. The surface will begin to look matte not shiny. If it is a small sculpture continue to do the entire surface. If it is a large sculpture divide it into areas, and do one area at a time. Allow the wax to dry to a haze (follow times on the wax can). Wrap the brush in plastic and place in a zip lock bag for future use. Using a clean cotton cloth begin gently rubbing the surface until the desired shine appears. Work the cloth in a circular motion on large smooth areas of the sculpture. Can repeat the process of applying the wax one to two more times for a better protective coating.

Application for Outdoor Bronzes

Blacks, reds, or golden browns should be waxed on a sunny day when the bronze is warm. Greens, granites and marbled patinas, should be waxed in the mornings or when the bronze is cool.

Wrap the metal ferrules of the paint brush with masking tape to avoid scratching or dinging the sculpture. Rinse the surface of the sculpture with clean running water (from a garden hose if possible). If there are any fly spots or other contaminants such as food or fingerprints, use a soft cotton cloth and gently rub until gone.

Allow the surface of the bronze to dry in the sun. It is very important that the surface of the bronze be dry prior to waxing. Open your wax and lay the bristles across the wax using a sweeping back and forth motion. Three or four strokes should do it. Place a layer of wax onto the sculpture using a circular motion. The surface will begin to look matte not shiny. If it is a large sculpture divide it into smaller areas so that the wax does not over dry. Allow the wax to dry to a haze (follow times on the wax can). Wrap the brush in plastic and place in a zip lock bag for future use. Using a clean cotton cloth begin gently rubbing the surface until the desired shine appears. Work the cloth in a circular motion on large smooth areas of the sculpture. The process of applying the wax can be repeated one to two more times for a better protective coating

cstrain[at]howardelectricwb[dot]com | Phone: 573-874-3174 | ©2007-2010 Charles Strain
Outdoor Sculptures available at any scale, maquette to monumental