Conservation of the Bronzes
John Ringling purchased the sculptures, created from
original works in European museums, using the "lost
wax process", a traditional casting technique nearly 6,000 years old, dating back
to ancient Egypt.
Cast by the Chiurazzi Foundry, in the rich material of
bronze, these works have remained in the Museum Courtyard and grounds for over 40 years
without any significant conservation treatments. The patina, original to Mr. Ringling's
selection from three choices of color finishes, have been
formulated with chemicals to achieve the Herculaneum bronze patina.
Deterioration has occurred from a variety of natural
environmental factors affecting the individual sculpture surfaces. They include
fertilizers, sand and silt from tradewinds, salt spray from the Sarasota Bay, sulphur from
well water, calcium deposits from city water, acid rain, jet plane emissions and debris
The bronzes were analyzed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF),
indicating the materials used were 82% copper alloys with tin as a major alloy element.
The Conservation process is accomplished
in three phases:
- Encrustation, accretions and corrosion products are removed with a low psi sandblasting
utilizing finely ground walnut shells
- The sculptures are then washed with water from a power spray washer
- A final protective coating of natural carnauba wax is applied by hand, using brushes and
a blowtorch and then polished.
The Modern Art Foundry, a third generation family business,
bronze specialists from Long Island City, NY, trained the Museum staff in the conservation
treatments. Essential to the preservation of the newly conserved bronzes will be a four-
to six-month maintenance program achieved through staff training, community volunteer
support using local artisans from the bronze foundry Shellspen International, Inc,
Kreissle Forge, and Ringling School of Art and Design students.
Michelle Scalera, Chief Conservator.
Photos by Dave Piurek, Assistant conservator
David in 2004
David in 2005
More Information like the above.