Art Maintenance

July 21, 2014 Posted by: M Farbman

This week we were fortunate to visit Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. There we got up close and personal with the artwork that Augustus Saint-Gaudens created in the 19th Century. This historic site is in New Hampshire, only a short drive from MABI. Surprisingly the bronze sculptures from so many years ago are only cleaned once a year. We got to aid in this annual process that keeps the sculptures in good condition. Other than a weekly light dusting the sculptures aren't touched. When July comes, the bronze is ready to be cared for, but even then the cleaning process is fairly minimal. We started by swiping the pieces off with a rag to eliminate dust and cobwebs, then we dipped the rag into mineral spirits and wiped the sculpture to get old wax and any green off. Green spots form over time from the copper in the bronze. Next we used a water and soap mixture to clean the surface. To get the soap off, we did another swiping with just water. After letting them dry for a few hours it was time to apply a thin film of wax. We rubbed the soft wax onto every crevice using paint brushes and sponges leaving the artwork looking matte. In order to bring back the shine we took cloth and buffed the surface creating a shiny new finish! The process was shockingly easy and simple. The art requires little maintenance to stay in great condition, so it is a shame to learn that the statues in city parks are in such poor condition, some are now completely green.

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Last updated: July 21, 2014

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