Cleaning and Caring for Bronze Sculpture

Bronze sculptures are very low maintenance and suitable for exterior and interior displays, but proper care of a bronze will keep it looking new for generations.

Please do not use household cleaners or furniture polish on your sculpture.

Using a process called “patina” Greg is able to add a variety of colors to the sculpture. You may be most familiar with this process as it occurs in nature–simply look at a bronze or copper roof and see how the color changes over time. Fortunately artists do not have to wait years for the colors to appear. Instead they can apply various chemicals carefully to the bronze to get the exact color they desire. This is very different from putting paint on a sculpture which only affects the surface. The patina process is actually a chemical reaction with the bronze.

Once the patina is completed a thin protective layer of wax or lacquer is applied. Without this protection your bronze sculpture will continue to have chemical reactions with the weather–and even the chemicals in your hands!

Even with this protective layer, over years your bronze will change begin to patina naturally and change color.

Once or twice a year on a warm day, bronze sculptures should be thoroughly washed with a mild detergent (Greg likes Dawn dish detergent) and a soft brush. Rinse the sculpture thoroughly to remove all soap residue.

After the bronze has been cleaned, wax is typically reapplied in order to protect the patina from changing color and being damaged by nature and handling. Some bronze owners prefer to allow the natural patina process to take place rather than applying wax to the piece–that is entirely a personal choice.

If you choose to wax your sculpture, first place paper over the base to protect it.

Select a soft bristle brush to apply wax. Wrap the metal portion of the brush (called a ferrule, in case you are wondering) with masking tape or painters tape. Be sure to overlap the bristles 1/8″. This is to protect the sculpture from being scratched while waxing.

Using Johnson’s paste wax or carnauba wax, apply a thin coat to the cleaned sculpture. It is helpful to have a paper towel or something to wipe off most of the wax from the brush before you apply the wax to the sculpture. Too much wax applied to the sculpture will result in a chalky appearance, especially during cooler weather.

After the wax is applied, buff the sculpture with a soft cloth. Be sure to buff thoroughly, especially in any depressions where heavier amounts of wax tend to settle.

Every several years the bronzes in your collection should be evaluated by a patina artist to determine if a professional cleaning is recommended.

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