Outdoor Bronze Sculptures Maintenance and Repair Tips

by David Woolf

Proper maintenance is important for any piece of art, not just outdoor bronze sculptures. However, unlike many outdoor sculptures, the ones made from bronze can last hundreds of years without any maintenance at all. That is unless they are broken or exposed to some harsh chemicals.

How to clean a bronze sculpture?
First of all, know that there is nothing wrong with leaving your bronze sculpture at the mercy of the outside elements. And by outside elements, we don’t mean bird poop or anything like that. What we mean is wind, sun, snow, frost, and rain.

If you leave it to the elements, it will appear as an antique bronze statue, with all the positive and negative sides. Some find that very attractive, while others not so much. What you think and feel about that approach, is another matter.

However, if you decide to clean it, know that it is not a complex procedure, or you need to hire a professional cleaning crew. On the contrary, you just need some warm water, soap, and a piece of clean cloth. 

Just don’t use too much soap because it may leave marks. For bird poop, you can use an old toothbrush. Everything else is pretty much straightforward.

Once you are done with the cleaning, pour some clean water over the statue before giving it one last wipe down. When the statue is cleaned and dried, comes the waxing part. It is super-important not to wax the statue while it is still wet because that can influence the integrity of the bronze. 

Know that you can’t use any kind of wax, especially not car wax that contains certain elements that can damage the bronze. Grab a soft rag and apply a tiny layer of wax. Once the first coating dries up, add a second layer. 

That’s pretty much it, in terms of how to clean your bronze sculpture.

How to repair a bronze sculpture?
Unlike cleaning a bronze sculpture, there is nothing simple in repairing a bronze sculpture. Sometimes, some people use strong adhesives to repair minor damages. But that doesn’t always work and can be also quite challenging.

Repairing the patina is by far the most challenging part. For this, you need a professional patineur that can match the main coloration of the statue using paints and chemicals. 

If it is a smaller installation, the entire patina can be fully removed with sandblasting. Sandblasting uses tiny glass beads that can safely remove the patina without causing any structural damages to the installation. Furthermore, it opens the pathway for a fresh patina. 

The biggest downside of this approach is that it can strip the piece of its identity. Sometimes a scratch or two can be part of its overall appeal, especially if it is a family heirloom. Those little scratches, or rubbed off spots, or darkened patina, might be part of the sculpture’s journey. They might hold some sentimental value to some family members. 

That is why this approach needs to be carefully considered before making any attempts to repair the sculpture.

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