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While the McKay Lodge Conservation Team can undertake complex conservation projects around the United States, we also perform many local conservation treatments in the Greater Cleveland area. So, if you are from the Cleveland area, go a little early before your next appointment at the Cleveland Clinic to check out one of our recent projects at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.

Located off East 105th street, is the bronze sculpture Flukes by Gordon Gund which depicts an abstract tail, or flukes, of a whale. Artist Gordon Gund intended Flukes to have a smooth texture which was now interrupted by the mottled appearance caused by outdoor exposure.

So how does a conservator make a smooth looking whale tail?

Wax and a torch, of course!

Conservators Thomas Podnar and Christina L. Simms heated the surface of the bronze and applied a wax coating after washing the sculpture. While there are many coatings that can be used for outdoor sculpture maintenance, a hot wax application is ideal for this conservation treatment of bronze sculpture. The hot wax saturates any inconsistencies in the metal surface, creating a more homogeneous surface and smooth appearance.

An after treatment image demonstrates an overall richer, even tone. Yet another successful bronze sculpture conservation treatment by our specialist conservators. It is certainly no “fluke”; the change in appearance before and after treatment is striking. It should be noted that this is not only an aesthetic change, but the wax protects the bronze metal and its patina from deterioration.

Outdoor sculpture maintenance is an ongoing process. But with regular inspection and care, our wax coating can last from three to five years before another reapplication to the bronze surface is likely needed.

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