20 Aug 2007

Protect your Art Investment- Care of sculptures

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Just as paintings require specialized care and attention so do other forms of artworks such as sculptures. Sculptures are commonly made of materials like stone, metal, glass, wood, ceramic, terracotta and bronze. Care and handling of sculptures depends on the kind of material that has been used. In general it is advised that sculptures be handled wearing soft cotton gloves. Repeated touching can cause finger marks that can gradually affect the surface of the sculpture. Always display the sculpture indoors or in the open according to the material of the sculpture. This is especially true if an indoor sculpture is kept in the open and is thereby exposed to sun and rain, which will inevitably damage the sculpture. Outdoor sculptures are especially treated to withstand environmental elements.

A constant temperature environment is ideal for sculptures as well. Heat, excessive humidity, too much light can cause damage. A sculpture should be dusted regularly to avoid accumulation of dust on it. A light feather brush is ideal for this purpose. One should never use cleaning agents, strong detergents, sprays and polishes to clean or attempt to give a sheen to the surface. Some sculptures have a coating of wax on them for protection and the wax layer can be re-applied periodically, but one must always consult an art conservator before doing this. The kind of stone and metal will determine how the sculpture should be cleaned; hence it makes sense to take expert advice before embarking on such a project.

Glass sculptures look beautiful but require special care just as most other glass objects do. Their fragile nature makes it imperative that they be displayed on stable shelves away from inquisitive hands and out of reach of children. The glass surface should be kept clean for that extra sparkle, and most of them can be washed with mild soap and water. One must handle them carefully and take all precautions that are normally associated with this delicate medium.

(Published in Financial Times)

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