Collectors of sculpture know that it provides a presence like no other art form. Whether indoors or out, sculpture creates a dynamic space for itself and becomes the focal point of any environment.
The care that most sculpture needs is usually minimal, but NESA members are often asked for advice on sculpture maintenance and repair. Here is a list of tips for the care and preservation of sculpture in and around your home:
- Sculpture that is always indoors, whether wood, stone, or metal, needs only to be dusted with a soft cloth. Do not use waxes or polishes of any kind. Some brushes can damage a bronze patina or a soft stone.
- Ceramic or cloth sculpture should usually be handled as little as possible, and dusted with a soft duster if at all. In some cases, a ceramic or stone sculpture can be washed, but always consult the artist before doing so to make sure no finishes were used that are incompatible with soap and water.
- Outdoor sculpture made of granite or cement can be washed with a household cleanser and plastic brush to remove dirt and some types of stains.
- Marble sculpture displayed outdoors can absorb minerals from rain, soil, and the atmosphere and become stained. Consult a professional for your particular type of stain. Tip: do not place a marble sculpture directly on the ground, where it can absorb moisture and staining minerals from the soil or plants. Place it on a plastic or granite tile or a stand.
- Bronze sculpture that is displayed outside needs to be re-waxed annually or semi-annually to preserve its patina, depending on your climate. Use a clear, solvent-free wax like Butchers' wax and a stiff yet soft brush, like a stenciling brush. Apply a thin coat of wax on a dry, sunny, warm day and buff gently with a soft cloth (do not leave any chunks of wax in crevices). Wrapping metal sculpture in the winter can protect it from salt, sand, and other corroding elements including ice. If your sculpture has discolored and needs to be re-patinaed, consult with us or a local bronze foundry that specializes in art bronze.
- Materials like "bonded bronze" or "bonded marble" or "cold cast bronze" are really made of plastic resins with a small amount of bronze or marble powder added to the first casting layer. The sculpture should be treated like a plastic resin sculpture.
- Sculpture made from plastic and plastic resins (epoxy, bonded bronze, bonded marble, polyurethane and polyester resins, acrylic, etc.) should not be displayed outdoors in full sun unless you know that the artist has made special preparations to treat the surface with an ultra-violet resistant finish appropriate for your climate. Many plastics are highly UV reactive and will degrade in heat and sunlight. When displaying your plastic sculptures indoors, treat as you would a ceramic sculpture. Some resins are brittle and should not be handled excessively.
- Sculpture that is made of plaster, or has been painted, should always be protected from water and dampness and should be rarely handled to protect the fragile surface.
- It is usually not advisable to place a sculpture in an enclosed room with a hot tub, jacuzzi, or sauna. The extreme humidity and chlorine or bromine fumes can quickly corrode metal and form deposits on other materials.
For other questions or for a maintenance referral, please email firstname.lastname@example.org