“What patina do you think will look best on this piece?”
It’s one of the most common questions we encounter from our clientele at the foundry as we’re rounding out the metal finishing work on a project. Often the sculptor’s focus is on form, line and texture, and this tends to hold true even when the finished piece is intended to be a fine art bronze. While we are happy to share our opinion on patina and finish selection, that decision should ultimately come from the artist and should ideally be included as part of the conceptualization of the project.
There are a wide array of different patinas, and some may pair better with your work than others. For instance, some sculpts with a traditional subject matter or classical style will generally lend themselves to the more traditional hot patinas. Conversely, more contemporary sculptures may benefit from polychrome finishes, be they multilayered patinas, dyes, waxes or pigments. Expanding your knowledge about the potential finish options can give you a greatly diversified palette to choose from. A more versed understanding of both the foundry process and patina application can enable you to sculpt with a specific patina in mind for each element or section of your completed composition. A real asset for those looking to diversify and intensify their work in this way is Patrick Kipper’s Patinas for Silicon Bronze. This book is laden with patina options, as well as a foundationary background on patination that can prove vital to your decision making at virtually any point in the creative process.
Monochrome bronze is essentially a blank canvas, and can be paired with various finishes to complete your artistic statement. We recommend photographing your final sculpt and experimenting with the varied tonal qualities that can be expressed through the manipulation of different patina schemes, either by painting printouts of your work or using a powerful editing tool like Adobe’s Photoshop, if you have it at your disposal.
Take the time to explore the options that are available to you with your foundry. Their experience can help your finished sculpture make a much stronger impact on the pedestal, whether at the gallery or in a collector’s home. Though patination is the final step in the bronzing process, it shouldn’t be your final thought. By experimenting with transparency, shading, polishing, and application techniques you can help bring more emotion to the piece. Apt planning for how your completed cast will look can amplify both it’s impact and resonance with your audience, helping your vision to stand out and reach people on a deeper level.