Caring For Your Sculpture
Bronze is ideal for exterior use because of its resistance to corrosion and its ability to take a fine, aesthetically pleasing finish. However, when the protective coatings of wax are not maintained they will eventually be lost, leaving your sculpture unprotected from the influences of the environment.
For a minimum clean, you can use a soft cloth, feather duster, or soft-bristle brush. Never use a chemical cleaner or metal polish on your sculpture as doing so will damage the finish, often very severely impairing the sculpture.
For an indoor bronze maintenance once a year is recommended (Twice a year if in a humid or corrosive environment).
For outdoor bronzes maintenance twice a year is recommended. Humid or acidic areas require three or four times a year. Blacks, reds, or golden brown bronze sculptures should be waxed on a sunny day when the bronze is warm. Greens, granites and marbled patinas, should be waxed in the mornings or when the bronze is cool.
• Wrap the metal of the paint brush with tape to avoid scratching the sculpture.
• Using a soft clean dry cotton cloth, wipe the bronze sculpture free of dirt. If there are any contaminants such as food or fingerprints, use a damp cloth with water only and gently rub the sculpture – ensure the surface of the bronze is dry prior to waxing.
• Open your wax and lay the bristles across the wax using a sweeping back and forth motion, about 3 or 4 times will do the job. Place a super thin layer of wax onto the sculpture using a circular motion. The surface will begin to look matt not shiny. If it is a small sculpture continue to do the entire surface. If it is large, do one smaller area at a time. Allow the wax to dry to a haze (follow the times stated on the wax can). Using a clean cotton cloth begin gently rubbing the surface until the desired shine appears. Work the cloth in a circular motion on large smooth areas of the sculpture. You can repeat this process one or two more times.
Ceramic and Glass
You should handle all glass and ceramic as little as you can and use latex gloves whilst you are moving the objects. Do not use cotton gloves as the sculpture can easily slip and break. Also avoid using your bare hands as the oil and acid from your hands can leave stains on the surface of your piece.
You can dust your ceramic and glass objects using a soft brush. Dry cotton wool or cloth will catch on rough surfaces, leaving their fibres behind, and possibly causing damage.
Whether inside or out, the treatment for willow is the same. When it needs it (see below) just paint your sculpture with wood preservative or linseed oil using a brush or a spray bottle. Linseed oil is widely used to preserve and finish wood. It can sometimes take days for the oil to dry completely, depending on conditions, sunny days being best. You can buy ‘boiled linseed oil’ from your local DIY shop, which has solvent thinners added to help drying. The process is uncomplicated, but do read what it says on the can or bottle: linseed oil is extremely difficult, even impossible, to get out of clothing, which is why it is so good at protecting your willow sculpture. Sculptures kept outside benefit from a coating of linseed oil once a year and those inside less frequently, about every two or three years.
After purchasing your carving, treat it with at least 3 more coats of varnish, not forgetting to coat the base and bottom of your carving. You will want to continue coating the carving once a year also. This will help reduce the likelihood of large cracks. Direct sunlight and dry places (next to a heater) are not good for a wooden sculpture.
As wood is a natural material, some wood checking (cracking) is normal. It occurs because of humidity changes and is in no way considered a defect. If the wood sculpture is kept in a stable environment and is treated well with varnish the likelihood of checking can be reduced.
If kept indoors, stone-resin will need no more than dusting. Out of doors, dust, grime, bird-droppings etc. can be removed with a damp cloth. The shine will dull in time and can be buffed up using a soft brush or cloth. Stone-resin is very resistant to weather-erosion but it doesn’t age as attractively as bronze or naturally quarried stone. There is no metal content to oxidise and, since it isn’t very porous, it takes longer for moss and lichen to take hold than on stone.
Many people prefer the finish on stone resin when the polish has worn off but, to maintain the appearance it has when new, apply polish every year or two. Any wax-based polish will do (preferably with no silicon content) – furniture polish for instance. Successive coats of black and brown shoe polish can be helpful if the colour has faded.
Apply the polish with a brush and buff up well between coats with a soft cloth, towel or brush. Two or three coats should be adequate. If the sculpture is large, think of the surface as a series of small areas and polish/buff one area at a time. This avoids leaving the polish on the surface for too long.
Stone-resin is a very strong and durable material but it is not unbreakable. Take care not to drop or knock your sculpture on something hard.