Care of your Bronze
Metal changes appearance over time. It is natural and expected. Bronze is an alloy of several metals, mainly copper and tin. The patina (surface pattern and colour) created at the foundry is an ever evolving 'alchemy'.
Preservatives are usually added to a bronze in the finishing stages once patina has been created. Most of mine will have been treated with wax. The wax, applied onto hot bronze, actually sinks into the structure of the metal so protecting it in a natural way. A waxed surface can then be buffed; further protecting but also giving shine. Wax is so effective at holding back further changes to patina that sometimes it is not desired. If the patina needs to develop, a lacquer can be an interim measure until the 'look' is achieved. Then wax can be applied later.
Sculpture by Fen D'Lucie at the foundry, recently waxed, post patina.
It appears glossy as the wax is still hot.
Various environmental factors affect both patina and metal over the years. Exposure to air, light, water, humidity, handling or chemicals will all effect your bronze. Undesired changes to the patina or damage to the metal itself can be offset by good maintenance ensuring your bronze ages well lasting for generations.
Maintenance: simple steps to care for your bronze.
• Keep the bronze dust free.
Ideally use a feather duster or soft-bristle brush, but a soft cloth will also be affective.
Indoor pieces presenting difficult areas can be gently cleaned using a soft-bristle brush dipped in mild soapy water, ensure it is rinsed off and thoroughly dried. Be mindful that harsh soaps can strip the surface wax and may have an undesired effect and that water will play with the metal if not removed.
• Apply wax annually.
Each year, clean your bronze and then apply a thin layer of wax. Liberon is a brand of wax my foundry use to protect metal. You will need to warm the bronze first: leave in the sun, or the fire hearth or even use a hairdryer.
This will aid application, which can be done using a soft brush, and allow the wax to seep into the metal. Warming the wax will also help but be very careful of overheating as it is flammable! Leaving wax in the sun or warm room will be sufficient. When complete and cool, buff with a clean soft cloth.
Outside sculptures. Likewise clean your bronze. Be sure to remove all debris, leaf particles, dirt, moss etc. Wash the bronze well. Leave to dry completely; ideally, if possible bring indoors and leave in a warm place. If not possible, pick a time when there's a few days of guaranteed sun, and place somewhere sheltered to reduce collection of further dust/dirt. Apply wax as above.
NEVER use a chemical cleaner. It will cause damage.
NEVER use a metal polish. It will cause damage.