The Phoenix Mansect is part of a larger “Mansect” grouping produced by a sculptor, Christopher Ray (1937-2000). Working out of his studio in Philadelphia, PA, Mr. Ray originally produced most of his sculpture in wrought iron. He truly exploded into the field of iron sculpture in the early 70’s where he enjoyed public and financial success with his most popular work, the Mansect Series which married human and insect features into a fanciful, yet strangely diabolical form. Mr. Ray’s desire to arrange his pieces in a single location as one large composition and his reluctance to part from his sculptures eventually put him into poverty and deprivation. This particular sculpture stands eight feet tall and spans close to six feet. It is a highly detailed and ornamental wrought iron work depicting a standing human/insect figure holding a wilted potted plant. It is now privately owned who contracted B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. to conserve the sculpture.
The Mansect was in unstable and deteriorated condition as the result of active iron corrosion (rust). There were areas that were deeply pitted and the extreme corrosion was causing substantial flaking. It also appeared that at some point in the past a tannic acid and acrylic coating had been applied to the sculpture. However, the coatings were incomplete and uneven thus exposing areas of metal to moisture. The surrounding vegetation near the Mansect slowed the evaporation of the moisture which exacerbated its unstable condition.
The treatment of the Mansect was done on site by conservators of B.R. Howard & Associates. Due to the large amount of active corrosion on the sculpture, mechanical methods of reduction such as wire brushing and localized air abrasion with glass micro balloons were determined to be the best methods of removing the corrosion from the Mansect. In addition, previously applied coatings were removed chemically to ensure proper cleaning. Once clean, the surface of the sculpture was treated with tannic acid as required to produce a passivated surface and then areas of loss were filled using a pigmented two-part epoxy. The entire statue was then heated and coated with a protective micro-crystalline wax to serve as a weather resistant coating thus providing a means for longer term preservation of the object.