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Sculpture/Removing layers of paint from bronze busts

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Question
Hi Matt,

I inherited a pair of bronze busts that are antiques. My husband's parents discovered them in the attic of an old house they were renovating more than 50 years ago - and they were obviously old even then.

At some point in time, someone decided they would look better white, and so they painted them with what appears to be a gloss enamel. As time went on and the paint chipped, they simply added more layers of paint.

Now, I would like to restore them, but I am concerned about damaging the surface of the metal. I haven't been able to find these same sculptures anywhere, but I have seen similar ones priced anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, and I do not want to do anything to lessen the possible value.

What can you recommend to help me with this?

Thanks for you help!

Kay

Answer
Hello Kay.  You may be able to strip the paint using a solvent.  It will be very hard to get the paint out of all of the recesses, but solvent will not damage the bronze.  You can even soak the pieces in a solvent and use a tooth brush or nylon brush to scrub the paint out of the recessive.  Any more aggressive means such as bead-blasting or the like would be best left to a professional, as it would require a re-patina of the bronze.  Also, bead blasting/ sand blasting can easily be made to be too aggressive.

best of luck,

Matt

Sculpture

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Matt Ramieri

Expertise

I can answer questions in reference to bronze casting (the lost wax process & copper alloys) & finishing. I can also answer questions about sculpture in general including: armature building, clay construction (plastalines and oil-based clays), fabrication, TIG arc welding (including aluminum), metal chasing and finishing, patination, and wax sculpture construction (including modeling waxes, casting waxes, and sprue waxes). I also have a limited knowledge of copyright law as it pertains to the fine art maker and his/her work. I do not claim to have any particular knowledge in the fields of bronze art antiquities and their values, or the value of work created by specific artists or their processes.

Experience

I have been working with bronze for over a decade and a half. I studied the lost wax process in college, went on to study the art abroad in Cortona Italy, and continued as an apprentice at the Johnson Atelier in Trenton, NJ. My love for the medium carried me on to take it up professionally. Now, I produce my bronze work and the work of others with my own company: "Inspired Bronze Inc".

Organizations
Inspired Bronze, Fine Art America

Education/Credentials
Graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor degree of Fine Arts (BFA) from the University of Hartford Art School University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program graduate: Cortona, Italy Johnson Atelier School of Sculpture apprentice program graduate: 1st Class Apprentice

Awards and Honors
Charles Salsbury Award (artistic excellence) "Mostra" exhibit-Cortona, Italy, Orlando Museum of Art-1st Thursdays exhibit, exhibited in AIDS benefit show 97, '98, 3rd place in ArtWorks Gallery juried exhibiton 99, University of Hartford Grant recipient for four years

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