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What is Bronze & How to look after it

What is Bronze?

Bronze has been in use since around 3500BC, primarily used for weapons and Armour as at the time it was a lighter alternative to leather & wood. The Chinese and West Asian began to use bronze in statuary as it was a lighter alternative to stone and could achieve more elegant poses. For this the artists invented the lost-wax process.

It is an alloy metal mostly made up of Copper with around 12% Tin and often additions of other metals such as Aluminium, Nickel, Zinc or Manganese. It will oxidize (comes in contact with water and oxygen) and turn green in time if not maintained. This natural green patina is commonly known as ‘Verdigris’ and is aesthetically desirable to some peoples tastes and also lends itself to those looking for that ‘historic look’ which if placed in a new garden can help give the illusion of an established one.

Boxing Hares by Lucy Kinsella titled Moondance, cast in bronze set in the valley at The Sculpture Park in Churt, Surrey Example of Bronze patination showing Verdigris with fresh on left and aged on right.

Bronze can be coloured (patinated) in almost any colour using a mixture of chemicals and heat with skilled timing and application. The finished patina is then coated in a protective wax which can be reapplied up to 3 times a year to maintain the original colouring. The amount of waxing required depends on the environment the sculpture will sit in; more humid and acidic places will require more frequent waxing, whereas if kept indoors will often require much less waxing if conditions are dry.

The lifetime of a good bronze is almost forever! To this day archaeologists are still uncovering bronze statues from the Mediterranean Sea in good recognizable condition dating back thousands of years.

 

How to look after your Bronze

Cleaning

DO NOT us any household detergents. Water alone is enough most of the time but if not, use a non-ionic or neutral detergent to remove any stubborn stains. Follow the products mixing guidelines and use a non-metallic bucket, rinse well after.

Applying wax

We recommend using Antiquax or Renaissance wax. DO NOT use a car wax which may have abrasives in it or any other wax which isn’t recommended for bronze.

Antiquax clear spray

  • Make sure surface is clean and dry.
  • Shake can well before use
  • Spray thin layer onto surface of bronze keeping can approximately 15cm away
  • Allow wax to dry (Check can guide times)
  • Buff using soft cloth to desired shine
  • Repeat for extra protection

 

Renaissance Wax

  • Sweep brush back and forth in the wax 3 or 4 times trying not to overload the brush
  • Apply a thin layer to the surface of bronze using a circular motion.
  • The area should become matte not shiny.
  • Allow wax to dry to a haze (Check can guide times)
  • Buff gently using a soft cotton cloth
  • Repeat up to 3 times for extra protection using less wax each time

 

Refurbishment

Skilled experts are required if your bronze requires repatination or welding, here at the sculpture park we frequently use such experts to carry out restorations are are happy to provide details on request.

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