Care of Patinaed Objects
The patinaed surfaces of wallpieces and other patinaed items need little care beyond occasional dusting. Though the colors will change slightly with time, especially if the piece is displayed out of doors, this generally amounts to a mellowing of the colors, which tends to enhance their look.
Our patinaed pieces are coated with a layer of wax to protect against slight scuffs, but the patinas themselves can be scratched easily. Care must be taken not to scratch the patinaed surfaces with metal objects or abrasives. Patinas may suffer if exposed to extreme weather or to significant amounts of automotive and diesel exhaust, or if placed so that water runoff from roofs falls on them. The polished or sanded bare brass areas on certain wallpieces are not waxed, and will tarnish. Care should be taken not to get them wet or to touch the bare brass areas, as fingerprints and water will spot them very readily.
Many of our wallpieces have been displayed indoors and out for many years with no attention, and have remained in excellent condition. However, if you wish to display a wallpiece out of doors, we recommend renewing the wax every year or so. Indoors, every 8-10 years should be sufficient. We use a paste wax formulated for floors: Protex® Prime Carnauba Paste Wax, which is manufactured locally, but is fairly widely available in hardware stores. Many sculptors recommend Renaissance Wax, which is very widely available in hardware and furniture stores, but which is significantly more expensive. We have never used Renaissance Wax, but it will probably serve excellently.
The wax should be applied very thinly, rubbed on with a soft, clean cloth, using a random motion. Before it dries, look at the piece at an angle, to see if there are wax streaks which may be visible when it has hardened, and rub these out. Some patinas, such as black, silver, and silver-brown, should be buffed for their proper effect. Once the wax is completely dry (several hours) it can be buffed lightly with coarse cloth, corduroy, or untreated Scotch-Brite pads. Again, use a random motion in buffing. Never use other sorts of abrasives, or chemical cleansers of any kind.
Some wallpiece parts are polished brass, instead of patinaed. These are left unwaxed. They will tarnish with time (and fairly rapidly if the piece is out of doors), and will show fingerprints very easily, so care should be taken to avoid touching them. Fully polished parts can be repolished using ordinary metal polish, such as Brasso® or Nevr-Dull®. Care should be taken not to get the polishing compound on the patinaed surfaces of other parts, as it can remove the patinas; if it does get there, wipe it off gently and carefully with a clean rag. If you wish, you can take the part to be polished out of the wallpiece, and polish it more thoroughly. To do this, see our instructions on disassembling wallpieces.
Parts which are etched or machine-engraved down to bare metal will also tarnish, but it is not recommended that you attempt to polish these. In etched pieces whose highest points are sanded to brass, you may carefully resand these with fine-grit sandpaper on a hard, flat sanding block to restore their shine. This should be done very conservatively, and ideally with the part to be sanded removed from the wallpiece. Thoroughly dust the sanded part, and rewax it, before reassembling the wallpiece.
Designs and images copyright © 1990-2011 David M Bowman