View Full Version : Buffing Bronze disaster, SOS!

03-15-2013, 07:46 AM
Hello all,

In the past, if anything bronze/brass/lead or iron needed a nice polish/clean or more luster, i would apply clear wax and buff. I recently did this to a bronze piece that must have had a sub-par varnish on it, because when
the wax was buffed, it lifted a good deal of the pigment with it. My terror upon realizing this was vast and overpowering. What did i do wrong? Does anyone know why this may have happened? Any way to repair the damage?
Clearly I'm no conservator...

thanks in advance!

03-18-2013, 04:59 AM
While I'm no conservator either, I waxed a few bronzes in my time. The patination is a chemical coloration in the surface of the metal - if a little wax took that off, you must've been rubbing really hard! I doubt that's the case. My guess is that the previous wax may have had pigment in it, and the new wax's solvents cut right through it and removed it. I used waxes that had pigments mixed in to help even out the tone on outdoor bronzes where weather and sunlight had affected the patina, so you may want to explore that to replace the discolored areas. If the shift in tone is really dramatic, you might have bigger problems that I can't address. Good luck!


03-18-2013, 11:05 AM
I don't have any real experience with this subject - but I recently ran across a website that has pigmented/colored waxes made especially for metal. http://www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/patina/ColoredWax.htm#bronze or try http://www.dickblick.com/products/baroque-art-gilders-paste/ Good luck!


03-19-2013, 10:04 AM
There are painted bronzes, which could lift with a wax. I'd think that would be a conservator issue for sure. Does a hand lens help see what is going on?

03-19-2013, 12:15 PM
Thanks for the replies, guys. No, the effect isn't dramatic but the surface area has dimmed. Randi, it's almost certainly a painted bronze, but this was the first time any pigment actually came off, despite extensive handling.
Colored wax might not be a bad idea... I think my art handler's pride took a bigger hit than the actual piece but i guess there are quite a few things you learn only through error