Behold, my first attempt at restoring a 30 year old bronze memorial (plaque). It took me a few hours, but I was taking pictures after each stage and waiting for it to dry (and heat up) between coatings. Here are some before and after pics:
Patina is an exterior surface change to a material (typically metal or stone) from exposure to natural or unnatural conditions. Air, rain, humidity, pollution, etc. all contribute to surface changes over time. The Statue of Liberty, for instance, has a famously green exterior due to patina, and it took just 6 years to fully cover it. Here is a photo of the Statue of Liberty from 1900 showing its original copper finish.
In general, the process is:
- clean with water-ish solution first to remove dirt
- remove patina with one of the following methods
- chemical cleaner (Brasso, Heritage Restorer, One Restore, CitriSurf 77, etc.)
- vinegar-ish paste (video below shows how to make it)
- sandblasting (sometimes needed to breakdown a strong clear lacquer coating)
- (optional) re-darken background with green, brown, black or desired color dye or lacquer paint
- burnish relief and type high points with sandpaper to bring out the raw bronze shine
- spray a clear lacquer coating to protect it from the elements
- polish with a carnauba wax to further protect it from UV spectrum energy
|Before any work was done. Patina is especially noticeable on the top ring of the flower vase.|
|First I trimmed some grass around the memorial and removed a lot of sand to expose the granite stone, then cleaned it. I also scrubbed the memorial gently with soap and water.|
|This picture is the result of multiple steps. I focused on the right side only, to highlight the difference. First, I scrubbed it with Brasso. I used a heavy duty plastic scrub brush all over, and a wire brush for the border and the various relief areas. I then rinsed it and sanded the high points with a 150 grit sandpaper. After brushing off the dust, and waiting for the bronze to heat up in the sun, I then polished the right side with a little bit of Johnson Paste Wax. Typically waxing is done last, but it can also be used to remove patina and polish.|
|Finally, I finished the right side by spraying two coats of clear lacquer paint on the right side. Note that I chose not to re-darken the background because I felt the contrast between background and high points was still pretty good. The next time I restore this particular memorial, I will likely need to re-darken it.|
Here is a photo of a nearby memorial no more than 5 years old from the date of this post. I believe my restoration came fairly close to this result. If you look closely, you can still see some of the lacquer coating at the top middle.
Here are some DIY “tutorials” that I used as guidance:
2 thoughts on “Bronze Memorial Restoration”
Joe, excellent work.👏 Very professional.
Great job Joe. Looks brand new again.