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 from birds.
      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

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