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.

Extreme climate conditions caused lacquer coating on bronze statue to deteriorate.

Extreme climate conditions caused lacquer coating on bronze statue to deteriorate.

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.


Abrasive cleanings

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.

Bronze sculpture loses original finish after abrasive cleanings.

Bronze sculpture loses original finish after abrasive cleanings.

Original finish of bronze sculpture can be seen in crevices.

Original finish of bronze sculpture can be seen in crevices.

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.

Daguerre-monument-conservation-1.jpg
Daguerre-monument-conservation-2.jpg

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.