Finishing a Bronze ~ How Do They Do That?

So many people have asked me how the finished colors and patterns are achieved on my finished bronzes.  It is one of the funnest parts of the process since I, as the artist, participate actively in this final stage!  Let me show you how we finished “Rolling Bliss” (#3 of 20) since I took lots of pictures!  Here is a close up of the finished product.  This is my absolute favorite patina yet!

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Detail of finished bronze

Detail of “Rolling Bliss” (#3 of 20) 6″ x 18″ x 10″ Bronze Sculpture

Now, how did we do that?  Once the bronze has been cast and fabrication (if cast in parts) is complete, the foundry sandblasts the sculpture to achieve an even surface to apply the finish or “patina” to.   This is what greeted me when I arrived at the foundry on “finish” day!

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Sandblasted and ready for patina

Assembled, sandblasted and ready for patina application.

The Patina is generally achieved using various chemicals and heat via a blow torch to achieve the desired effects and fuse the finish with the metal.  In some cases some paint may be used to achieve certain effects.   For “Rolling Bliss” #3, we started with Potash and turned the entire sculpture very dark for the base color.

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Starting Potash Layer

Initial application of potash… continue applying until…

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Completed Potash Layer

Completed potash application turns the sculpture a warm black.

Then we introduced Silver Nitrate on top of the Potash to lighten in layers and achieve the mottled effect.

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Starting Silver Nitrate Layer

Oh My! Initial application of silver nitrate on top of the potash layer…

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Completed Silver Nitrate Layer

Completed silver nitrate application… GORGEOUS!

I fine tuned the “darks” of the eyes, muzzle, and transition areas from grey to dark on the legs with diluted black acrylic paint… The heated metal absorbs the paint and it also fuses with the metal.

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Artist touch up prior to sealing

Refining the dark details and transition areas.

Once satisfied with the effects, the sculpture is sealed with clear enamel and finished with wax polish (they can be displayed outside safely!).

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Sealing Patina with Enamel

Sealing with enamel.

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Final sealing with wax

Final step of applying wax to protect from the elements.

Then the sculpture is mounted to the base.  Did you know these sculptures are hollow?  The foundry fabricated the cross brace bars which they then tapped a threaded hole for the mounting bolts to attach to.

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Hollow - Prep for Mounting

It is hollow! Prepping for mounting.

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Underside of granite base - Prep for mounting

Granite base is carefully drilled with counter sunk holes.  Once sculpture is mounted, bottom of base covered in felt.

So here is the final mounted sculpture!  Looks fantastic!  Hoping this step by step tour has helped to demystify this part of the process!

Artist Robyn Ryan's "Rolling Bliss" - Finished sculpture mounted on granite

“Rolling Bliss” (#3 of 20) 6″ x 18″ x 10″ Bronze Sculpture

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