Bronze Conservation in Montpelier

First Governor of Vermont

‘Thomas Chittenden’ is a life-size, dark brown patina, bronze statue located outside the west wing of the Vermont State House in Montpelier, Vermont.

Vermont State House
Vermont State House with red circle indicating location of Thomas Chittenden bronze sculpture

It was created by renowned sculptor Frank Chalfant Gaylord II (1925 - 2018) of Barre, Vermont. Gaylord is best known for the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. 'Thomas Chittenden' was dedicated on 6/18/99.

 

Chittenden (1/6/1730 - 8/25/97) was a major figure in the early history of Vermont as the first leader of the territory for nearly two decades.

Condition

This sculpture sits upon a granite pedestal. The sculpture and pedestal are in excellent condition with only minor oxidation on the bronze - two small patches of blue-green - indicating a pinhole size pit or hairline crack in the patina where air has seeped through and oxidized the underlying bronze.

There is a light green tinge over the entire surface of the sculpture. It is mild copper oxidation, typical of outdoor sculpture that has not received a periodic protective coating.

Restoration

Why coat bronze at all? After all, it's a very durable metal.

The importance of coating bronze or any metal sculpture is to protect against conditions that can harm the metal surface, especially bird droppings, coastal salt air, and acid rain.

First, I cleaned the surface by removing all dirt and oxidation with a mild soap and distilled water. I use Orvus which is a very mild detergent and biodegradable. Traditionally used to clean horses, Orvus is pH neutral and recommended by art conservators.

Orvus

Next I prepared for coating the sculpture by covered the granite pedestal and surrounding landscaping with protective plastic. The coating is solvent based so it will discolor the granite and damage plant life. I applied the coating with a horsehair brush since the polymer dissolves plastic brush bristles.

I use a product known as Everbrite. It has been used to coat outdoor metal sculpture for over 30 years. It far exceeds the protective properties of wax, lasting as long as 10 years. It is removeable with solvent, but unlike wax there is no need to remove past coats. Additional coats can be applied right over previous ones.

It comes in clear, matte, and satin finish, and the manufacturer will create custom mixes if you need to match surfaces more precisely.

This product is easy to apply needing no special skills or expensive conservators.

Everbrite bronze coating

I applied 2 coats. It dried within an hour. I'll check on it yearly for five years at no extra charge as part of my guarantee.

2 Responses

  1. That’s a good idea to coat the statue in something to help protect it from things like oxidation and acid rain. I like the idea of making sure that my statue stays as nice as possible, for as long a possible if I got one, so that’s a good tip. I’ll have to make sure that I also get some wax or something to apply to it if I get a statue.

  2. Hi Tyler,
    Your name links to Robin Antar who’s work I really like, so if this is Robin or someone who works for Robin, love your work!!!

    I really avoid wax in all cases unless the client insists. Even indoor pieces. I have one client who likes me to use wax on her outdoor polished stone sculpture just to give it more pop. Even my friend who takes care of the Liberty Bell is considering a polymer coating.

    Thanks for the comment and stay safe!

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