Caring for Bronze - Dawn Weimer Bronze Sculptor
Bronze endures; transcending time, surviving the elements, remodeling contractors, children and pets! In fact, should it even become exposed to fire it could likely be restored to its original beauty by a competent foundry. In fact, the bronze sculpture "Double Check" by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. of a seated man with briefcase survived through the World Trade Center tragedy. It will need a new patina and base but will again be a bronze testament to the fortitude of America.
The coloration on the surface of a bronze is achieved by an artistic application of specific chemical compounds (Patination) causing certain oxidation processes to occur which brings about various colors. Some collectors enjoy the subtle changes that naturally occur as the bronze "ages". Bronze can always again be sandblasted and repatinaed should the color changes become objectionable. However, most bronze is "sealed" traditionally with waxes and/or lacquers.
This is done to protect the patinas as well as the bronze surface, which is otherwise quite sensitive to color changes brought about by exposure to the immediate atmosphere. It is recommended that your bronze not be placed where it willcome into contact with vapors from swimming pool or hot tub. The chlorinated water vapors can become quite harmful to the patina as well as the bronze itself over a period of time. Remember too that items like rings, watches, belt buckles etc can scratch the patina.
Lacquer and/or several thin coats of paste wax are applied to the surface of every bronze as well as its wood/marble base before it ever leaves my studios. Outside of frequent dusting and light, brisk buffing with a soft, dry cloth your bronze should not require much to maintain its beautiful glow. However, once or twice a year you may apply a very thin coat of paste wax to the surface to further protect your bronze. It is particularly advisable to at least annually rewax the surface of an outdoor bronze. First, make sure all areas of the bronze are thoroughly clean. Using a mild solution of Dawn dishwashing detergent with a soft natural bristle brush will remove the old wax and clean the surface. For indoor pieces, make certain they are dust free; then using a soft, natural bristle brush apply a thin coat of "Johnson's Paste Wax" (easily available at your local grocery store) to the surface allowing it to dry to a haze (approximately 10-15 minutes).
The patina may darken but as the wax dries, the color will reappear. Then using a soft, clean 100% cotton cloth (cloth diapers work great), lightly buff your bronze until a desired glow or sheen appears. NEVER USE household cleansers or furniture polishes that may have cleaning agents in them. They will tend to soften and pull any existing protective wax off the surface exposing the patina to the atmosphere. There is a book available by one of the nations leading patineurs, Patrick Kipper, for more in depth coverage of the care of bronze. It can be obtained through Rodgers & Nelsen Publishing Co., PO Box 7001, Loveland, Colorado 80537-0001 USA. Telephone: 970-593-9557.