Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Preserving Outdoor Bronze Sculptures

Beautiful outdoor sculptures decorate parks and federal buildings and stand as memorials to those who have come before us all across this great land. Many are made of durable bronze which is meant to withstand the elements and exposure to sun, rain, wind, sleet and snow. But, over time, the harsh weather and environment can start to take its toll on the sculpture. Light and heat can fade pigments and break down protective lacquers. Dirt can build up in crevices, hard water can cause unsightly streaks and wind and rain can wear away wax coatings.

Taking proper care, including regular maintenance of your outdoor bronze sculptures will ensure they are kept in good condition. Here are a few tips to keeping your sculptures looking as beautiful as the day they were created.

  • Inspect and photograph annually.
  • Look for signs of corrosion around the base. Are there stress craps or rust? Structural issues are critical and should be addressed promptly.
  • How does the coloring look? Excluding coloring that is intentional, green or white streaks are a sign of corrosion or mineral build-up. Corrosion should be addressed immediately before it permanently damages the sculpture, and mineral build-up can be removed to improve the appearance.
  • Pay attention to surface conditions. All areas should have a consistent sheen of an even protective coating.
  • Once you’ve inspected its condition, it’s time to clean the sculpture. Use a regular pressure hose, a soft nylon bristle brush or sponge and non-ionic detergent to remove dust and debris.
  • Finally, add a layer of wax to protect the surface.
  •  If during your inspection and cleaning you found any structural damage or corrosion, it is important to contact a conservator for repairs.

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