Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:


How do you make a bronze sculpture?


The original sculpture is created in any number of materials. Woodcarvings, clay, stone, and wax can all be used for the original artwork. I sculpt primarily in oil-based modeling clay. After the original sculpture is completed, a flexible rubber mold is made retaining all the detail of the original work. A plaster shell mold assures correct registration of the inner rubber mold. Large sculptures require many such molds.


How long does a custom sculpture take?


This always depends on the size and complexity. The sculpting time for the original artwork could be as fast as 3-4 weeks for a simple piece. A large monument could take as long as several months to properly capture the goals of the client. After the clay modeling is complete, molding, and casting generally takes 14-16 weeks. Complex monument size sculptures will take longer.


How are monuments installed?


We will work closely with our customers to assure that the installation of a monument is successful. In many cases, a client has resources available that can support the process. Facilities, staff, and equipment may be provided by the client through their organizational resources or local connections. If requested, we will be turn-key the total installation. As the project progresses, details of the site design and installation requirements will be defined in detail.


Can we help with site design?


In most cases, organizations that purchase a monument will have a landscape architect or design staff that will work on the site preparation and design during the creation of the monument. We will be happy to participate in that process with your design staff. Lighting, sight lines, and elevation are all important considerations of the design.


How large should a sculpture be?


The issue that is often overlooked in initial discussions is the scale of the sculpture. Location and viewing distance will determine how large a sculpture should be. If a monument is meant for an intimate setting such as a garden where it will be viewed close-up, 2/3 life size to life size scale may be a perfect choice. Elevating a life-size figure enhances the viewing distance but, the greater the distance from the sculpture to the primary observer’s location, the larger the scale that will be required. If you aren’t sure about the size you should consider, have someone stand in the location of the sculpture and then observe them from all the perspectives on that scene. If the person looks small, a life-size scale will be too small. A statue at 125% scale will increase the viewable distance while not overpowering a closer perspective. Increasing the size of a sculpture does have implications for your budget.

Examples of scale for a sculpture of a life size figure that is 6’ tall.

  • 1 1/4 scale = 7 1/2 feet
  • 1 1/2 scale = 9 feet
  • 1 3/4 scale = 10 1/2 feet
  • 2 X scale    = 12 feet
  • 3 X scale    = 18 feet

Consider that a human figure that is to be visible from a passing highway should be around 3X life size.


How do I care for my sculpture?


Plan

With all public sculpture, time, the elements, and the touch of people will eventually create a friendly patina as the metal blends into its new environment. These subtle changes are to be expected. However, to maintain the classic look of bronze, a simple process will protect your sculpture for many years.

The cleaning and waxing of outdoor sculpture should be done at least one time per year. Every 6 months should be considered in damaging environments such as salt air near the ocean or in an urban setting. Your sculpture was originally sealed with a lacquer specifically formulated for bronze. The lacquer was then sealed with paste wax. These two steps provide the initial protection for the surface of your sculpture. As the sculpture is exposed to the elements and to the touch of the public, the wax on the surface will wear away leaving only the lacquer to protect the bronze from the elements. Because of this, a simple maintenance schedule is suggested.Following is a suggested program for maintaining the integrity of the patina coloring and the metal structure of your sculpture.

TOOLS NEEDED:

  • Plastic Bucket
  • 2”or 3” paint brushes
  • PH neutral Detergent
  • 4” nylon paint brush
  • Soft Scrub Brushes
  • Johnson’s Paste Wax
  • Duct tape
  • Soft Cotton Towels
  • Compressed air nozzle (helpful but not required)

This process will normally need to happen over a two-day period. The first day will be for washing and cleaning. The second day will be for waxing and polishing. If this is a team project, you will want more than one of some of the items listed. This is a perfect activity for a group. Students, Scouts, and Civic groups enjoy this as a way to provide community service.


Wash

Treat the cleaning of your sculpture with the same care you would use in cleaning a fine automobile. Before re-waxing the sculpture, it is important that the surface is thoroughly cleaned to remove contaminants that could become trapped under layers of wax.

  1. Choose a warm day when the surface of the bronze is warm. Time in the hot sun will be needed to completely dry the sculpture before waxing.
  2. Make sure you use clean running water. Make sure water doesn’t contain alkaline or other contaminants that may leave water spots or other discoloration. De-ionized water that is used by professional window cleaning companies is ideal.
  3. Use non-ionic or neutral detergent mixed in a non-metallic bucket. Many household detergents are not appropriate and neutral detergents are available through janitorial supply stores.
  4. Soft, non-metallic scrub brushes will loosen the dirt and reach deep areas in the texture of the sculpture. NEVER USE WIRE BRUSHES, STEEL WOOL OR SCOURING PADS.

The best technique is to wash, rinse, wash, rinse and rinse and rinse. Check to make sure that any drain holes designed into the sculpture are cleared and draining properly. It is not recommended that you use a pressure washer in this process. High-pressure water can push dirt into the surface and cause discoloration in the future.

Towel dry the sculpture and allow it to completely dry before proceeding to the waxing stage. If the sculpture is waxed before the surface is dry, the trapped water under the wax can fog and discolor the sculpture. If available, you may want to use compressed air to blow water from the pools that can form in the texture of the sculpture. It is important to remove the water droplets from the surface and not to let the sculpture “air dry”.


Wax

The purpose of this step is to seal the surface and protect the sculpture. Never use cloths to apply wax. These may remove wax from the surface rather than adding it.

  1. Always use clean/new paint brushes to apply the wax. Disposable brushes are perfect for this.
  2. Before using, wrap the metal part of the brush with duct tape the prevent scratches on the bronze.
  3. Paint Johnson’s Paste Wax on the entire surface. The wax will turn to liquid as it touches the warm metal and you will see the pleasant depth it suddenly gives to the sculpture. Start at the top and work down, drips on previously waxed areas. Use moderate amounts of wax on the brush so you don’t cause pooling in recessed areas. When pooled wax dries, it will turn cloudy. If this happens, clean out the pooled area with a cleaner brush.
  4. Apply wax sufficiently in the areas that will accumulate water. Be aware of areas that you can only see if you are down low looking up at the sculpture.
  5. After the wax has cooled, use a clean soft cotton cloth to wipe the surface in order to compress and polish the dried wax. A clean soft nylon brush works well to shine textured areas that the cloth can’t reach. This step usually needs to happen in the evening after the sculpture and wax has cooled and can be performed easily by one person.

For sculpture that is placed inside away from the weather, the same principles apply. Keeping the sculpture waxed will protect the bronze from the constant touching that will happen as well as from dust and dirt. This wax protection will make regular dusting very easy for your maintenance staff. Annual cleaning and waxing is recommended.