It is important for a bronze to be properly prepared for the color and style of finish desired by the customer. In most cases, a bronze is sandblasted and wire wheeled immediately before a piece is patinaed. This blends recreated textures with the original, removes any oxidation that may be present, and creates a surface which will accept a patina. Depending on the patina being done, the surface may require some additional treatment such as polishing.
After the surface has been prepared, the piece is completely blackened and then scrubbed. The result is that the crevaces and texture tend to remain dark, while higher surfaces are made lighter. This gives the piece additional depth and richness. The piece is then rinsed off with water and dried off with an air hose.
Although there are numerous different patinas, the three most common are Ferric, Cupric, and Natural. Of the three, Natural patinas are the easiest to do as they do not require additional chemicals to achieve their color. They are simply prepared as mentioned above and sealed. With Ferric and Cupric based patinas, after the piece is prepared it is heated and chemicals are sprayed on in a controlled oxidation reaction. The interplay between the heat, chemical, and bronze is a delicate one and takes a great deal of skill to master.
Sealing the Sculpture
The sealant applied to a piece functions not only to protect the surface and seal the colors that have been applied, but also to bring out the luster of the metal. After the patina is applied, it must be sealed while it is still warm. The heat from the piece allows the sealant to soak into the porous surface of the metal. The two sealants are carnuba wax and incralaq. Wax is used for most pieces and is brushed on. Incralaq is a special type of lacquer reserved for use on outdoor pieces, such as monuments and architectual elements, and is sprayed on.
The final step in the patina process takes place throughout its life. As a bronze ages, the colors that were originally applied to it will darken and shift to richer hues. The natural look of the metal and its constant evolution are the factors that set a patinaed piece apart from painted one.
Heartland Art Bronze Inc.
11628 254th Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044-7331
Phone # 785-842-3626
Fax # 785-842-7011
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