Senior conservator of sculpture Thomas Podnar has been with the firm since 1993. Tom’s expertise with sculpture of all forms is widely known and his expertise with fountains, both historic and modern, is widely and highly regarded.
His abilities and success were built from a diverse background of learning, work and experience that converged to create a professional highly adaptable to problem solving in various historical and modern sculptural media including all metals, stone, masonry, and mechanical/hydraulic systems.
Tom received his degree in sculpture in 1975 and subsequently passed through diverse phases of learning and work that built his effectiveness today. After graduating, Tom worked as a sculptor, taught painting and drawing, worked for 6 years casting art bronze, then became an art bronze foundry partner and manager. He cast and finished bronze sculpture for other artists, then gradually worked more and more in restoration and preservation of sculpture over 18 years. Already having a long mechanical skills background, he grew quickly in new employment as a contractor for earthworks, water features sculptor, and water systems designer for a major landscaping firm.
In 1993, Tom was asked to join our firm as its first sculpture and fountains conservator. Here he continued to build on his already substantial knowledge and skills and was soon elected to Professional Associate membership into AIC.
An interest in the areas of lead and zinc sculpture led Tom to learn the craft of oxygen-hydrogen lead welding and to gain further expertise in the fluxing and soldering of sheet and cast zinc. Successfully adapting the modern form of these industrial fabrication techniques to the conservation of sculpture exposed to an outdoor environment for 70-130 years is a significant challenge at which Tom has become skilled.
Conservation of Bronze, Steel, Aluminum, Cast Iron, Cast Lead, Cast and Sheet Zinc and Copper Sheet Sculptures
Tom’s background in the art bronze casting industry has made him a resource in establishing particular processes used to produce certain artworks over the last century and interpreting and presenting his findings effectively to owners and colleagues.
Casting, Welding, Fabrication
Tom started welding in art school in 1971 and began mastering delicate oxy-acetylene welding of steel and bronze, silver brazing, and other torch work. He built glassblowing furnaces, ceramic kilns and bronze melting furnaces. His knowledge of bronze casting and fabricating techniques which he brought back to the Cleveland area after graduation secured him a position as an associate of the Studio Foundry, performing molding, casting, chasing and patination of bronzes for artists throughout the midwest.
Historic Fountain Rebuilding and Preservation Including Water Systems
Tom has worked closely with pumping systems used to create esthetic water displays. Knowledge built up over years of working with these systems and the challenges involved in getting them to perform correctly is a special area of his interest.
Training of Others in the Maintenance of Outdoor Sculpture
Tom has performed training for many people who are charged with the upkeep of outdoor sculpture. He has trained members of the National Park Service, municipal staffs in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and other cities and towns, staff at Penn State, Kent State and other colleges and universities which have outdoor sculpture collections, and museum staff at locations across the country.
Conservation of Outdoor Sculpture and Monuments
Conservation of Historic Machinery and Military Artifacts
Preservation Work with Stone, Mortars, and Cements
Erection of Sculpture
Professional of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)
National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE International)
2002 GSA Peer Professional
Appointed Member, GSA (General Services Administration) National Register of Peer Professionals – a Peer Review Professional in conservation participating in efforts to improve design quality in public art and architecture through the GSA Design Excellence Program.
September 1993 – Present, Conservator
Position: Conservator of Sculpture, Monuments and Historic Fountains
McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory, Inc.
10915 Pyle-South Amherst Rd.
Oberlin, OH 44074
1991 – 1993, Independent Fountain Contractor
Yardmaster, Inc., Painesville, Ohio
1975 – 1993, Conservator in Private Practice
Conservator of Metal Objects and Sculpture
1886 Muskoka Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
1985 – 1991, Staff Sculptor & Design Engineer
R. J. Stovicek and Associates, Lorain, Ohio
1981 – 1985, Vice-President, General Manager
Creative Dimensions in Bronze, Cleveland, Ohio
1975-1981, Sculpture Reproduction and Fabricator
Studio Foundry, Cleveland, Ohio
1975, BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts – Sculpture, Minor in Lithography)
Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio