information is intended to answer some of the most frequently asked questions
we receive. If you don't find the answer to your question here, please
feel free to contact us for more information.
What is bronze?
What is "cold-cast" or "bonded" bronze?
How do I know if my sculpture is bronze?
Why is my sculpture changing color and what should I do about it?
How should I care for my bronze sculpture?
Should I repair/restore my sculpture?
My sculpture has been damaged and I want to have it restored. What kind
of results can I expect and how do I proceed?
Bronze is a metal alloy comprised mostly of copper (about 95%). The other
elements in bronze can include phosphorus, manganese, aluminum, and silicon.
Sculptures cast in bronze are created using the lost
wax casting process and are sometimes referred to as hot-cast bronze.
is "cold-cast" or "bonded" bronze?
Cold-cast bronze, also known as bonded bronze, is a mixture
of resin and bronze powder. Sculptures made of cold-cast bronze are created
by pouring the resin/bronze mixture directly into a mold. This method
of creating sculptures bypasses the lengthy lost wax casting process and
is, therefore, an inexpensive alternative to hot-cast bronze. In general,
cold-cast bronze is not have the strength and longevity of hot-cast bronze.
do I know if my sculpture is bronze?
You can use any of the following methods to determine whether your sculpture
is hot-cast bronze or cold-cast bronze:
- Feel the weight
of the sculpture. A hot-cast (metal) bronze sculpture will be quite
heavy, while a cold-cast (resin) sculpture will feel fairly light weight.
For example, a small hot-cast bronze sculpture (about 12" tall)
might weigh 6-10 pounds, while the same sculpture cold-cast will weigh
only a couple of pounds.
- Lightly tap a hollow
part of the sculpture with the wooden part of a pencil. If your sculpture
is metal, the tap will ring. If your sculpture is made of cold-cast
bronze, it will produce a dull "thud."
- Finally, on an
inconspicuous area of your sculpture, for example, on the bottom of
the piece, scratch a small area to reveal the material under the patina.
If the revealed area appears bright gold in color, your sculpture is
metal rather than cold cast resin.
whether your sculpture is bronze, brass or some other similar alloy can
be more difficult. In general, brass has a slightly lower copper content,
so may appear more yellow in color, while bronze may appear more golden
in color. Sculptures made of spelter, or pot metal, will be fairly light
weight and appears grey in color.
is my sculpture changing color and what should I do about it?
Any metal sculpture, whether it is bronze or another metal, will likely
change in appearance over time. A number of factors can affect the way
a metal sculpture ages. These include:
factors (for example, humidity, exposure to salt air, extreme sunlight,
handling, and contact with water and/or chemicals). A good maintenance
program is the best way to guard against further undesired changes to
patina and possible metal corrosion.
- The original
patina and finish. Some of the chemicals used during the patination
process hold up better over time and in certain conditions than others.
For example, the chemical that produces a white patina is fairly unstable
and is not suitable for sculptures that will be installed outside, and
a red patina will often darken or fade over time. Regardless
of the type of patina used, any sculpture must be well sealed after
patination (with either wax or lacquer). This finish must be maintained
to preserve the underlying patina.
- Proper maintenance.
If a bronze is properly maintained over time, it should age nicely and
restoration should not be required. However, if a sculpture is left
unattended for a period of time, it might collect layers of dust, dirt,
or chemical/mineral build up that should be removed to preserve the
patina and prevent possible corrosion.
Some people enjoy
watching the finishes of their sculptures "evolve," while others
prefer that their sculptures retain the original (like-new) appearance.
If you are unhappy with the appearance of a sculpture that has begun to
change color, we can clean and seal the piece, or we can remove the old
patina and apply a new patina and finish. The questions at the bottom
of this page should help you decide what to do in your particular case.
should I care for and maintain my bronze sculpture?
At a minimum, you can keep your sculpture clean and dust free using a
soft cloth, feather duster, or soft-bristle brush. NEVER use a chemical
cleaner or metal polish on your sculpture. Doing so will damage the finish,
often severely. If you must, you can use a very small amount of mild soapy
water to clean areas that do not come clean from dusting.
6-12 months for indoor sculptures and every 4-6 months for outdoor sculptures,
after cleaning your sculpture, place it in the sun for a few hours (or
carefully heat it with a hairdryer) and apply a thin layer of Tre-wax
using a soft natural-bristle brush. After the wax has dried to a haze,
buff your sculpture with a soft clean cloth.
I repair/restore my sculpture?
to restore a damaged sculpture, consider the following questions:
- How noticeable
is the damage?
If the damage is minor, it might be possible for you to continue to
enjoy the sculpture by simply positioning it in a manner that the damaged
area cannot be seen.
- Will changing
the finish on a family heirloom or an antique impact its sentimental
or monetary value?
We strive to repair damaged sculptures such that the restoration is
unnoticeable and that the rest of the sculpture is effected as little
as possible, however, there are cases where the sculpture cannot be
restored to its pre-damaged condition. For example, if spot matching
a patina is not possible, an entire sculpture might require a new patina
to disguise the repair. The new patina will match the original patina
as closely as possible, but will not be identical. In these types of
situations, you must consider the sentimental and monetary impact of
restoration. On the other hand, you must also consider how leaving the
damage unrestored impacts the sculpture's value.
- Is restoring
my sculpture worthwhile?
If a sculpture that you like and intend to keep is damaged to a point
that you no longer enjoy displaying it, restoration is well worth the
cost. If, however, you intend to restore a damaged sculpture for resale,
you should consider whether the money you will have invested in the
sculpture and its repair can be recovered.
sculpture has been damaged and I want to have it restored? What type of
results can I expect and how should I proceed?
The results we can achieve during restoration depend on a number of factors
including the extent of damage, the type of material used, the age of
the piece, etc. For examples of the types of repairs we can do, view completed
estimate for repair/restoration, please email email@example.com
and briefly describe the damage. Please include measurements and the estimated
weight and age of the piece. If possible, it is extremely helpful for
you to include photos of the sculpture with close ups of the damaged area.