Bronze sculpture repairs
Bronze sculpture issues, causes, and solutions
Every sculpture repair is unique in its own way. How the sculpture was made, the surface texture, where the sculpture is placed in its environment, and other factors all contribute to the story of the condition of the sculpture. There are a few common causes that can have relatively predictable outcomes when it comes to bronze sculptures. Here are a few examples:
Extreme climate conditions
Extreme heat, dry air, constant rainy conditions, or salty air can speed up opportunities for issues to take root in public art. In the case of this monument, the culprit was the climate of the state of Texas.
Project example: Texas Cowboy Monument
Issue: The protective lacquer coating was beginning to deteriorate
Cause: Continual exposure to extreme Texas climate
Solution: First, the current lacquer coating that had failed was removed from the sculpture, followed by a series of thorough cleanings. New lacquer coatings were applied, then cold wax treatments and a buff to finish.
In most cases, volunteers and staff groups can be trained to learn proper maintenance techniques to keep sculptures looking great in between conservation treatments. However, sometimes training never occurs or gets passed down the line improperly. That is why having training sessions regularly with staff and volunteers is so important. Improper cleaning techniques can be just as detrimental to a sculpture as no cleaning at all.
Project example: Spartan Youth Sculpture
Issue: Bright bronze substrate was exposed over the figure (you can still see some of the areas of original finish within the crevices)
Cause: Extensive abrasive cleanings over time
Solution: The sculpture was chemically re-patinated through heating the bronze and applying a series of wax treatments and buffing techniques.
Outdoor exposure over long periods of time
Sometimes the climate has nothing to do with the sculpture damage, just simply being outside over time is the main cause for concern.
Project example: Daguerre Monument
Issue: Bronze had changed from original dark coloring to a light green
Cause: Exposure to the outdoors over the years
Solution: The sculpture was re-patinated to its original brown appearance and hot waxed using a specially formulated blend of waxes. It was then cold waxed twice and buffed between the coatings to ensure all areas were covered.
Want to watch the conservation process of a bronze sculpture? Check out this video that shows just how a bronze sculpture is repaired.