Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece's large scale and difficult-to-reach areas (created by the curving forms) present unique challenges to the conservation team during the annual cleaning and maintenance. In order to treat every inch of the sculpture, at least six people must work a minimum of three days, using an elaborate system of mechanical lifts, scaffolding, and ladders.
Treatment of Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece begins with a thorough inspection of the sculpture. Next, the team rinses both pieces with water, using a pressure washer on a low setting. The sculpture is then washed with water and a mild, non-ionic detergent without perfumes or colorants. This step is the key to removing the dirt, pollen, and pollutants that disfigure the sculpture. Left untreated, these pollutants would eventually lead to corrosion of the metal and loss of patina. Finally, the sculpture is waxed and buffed. Applied by hand, the protective wax coating (consisting primarily of carnauba wax mixed with other natural and synthetic waxes) preserves the brown-red patina. The highly polished surfaces, however, are especially vulnerable to changes and require additional treatment. These areas are polished with an extremely fine grade of microalumina powder and coated with a synthetic resin before being waxed. The entire sculpture is buffed, both by hand and with mechanical devices.
Image: Bronze Form as it was originally intended as part of Large Figure in a Shelter