We often get visits at our exhibitions or enquiries on our website about broken or chipped sculptures.
Depending on the value of the original piece and the age of the sculpture we would advise repairing it or not. We often ask for photos to be sent to gauge this if you are unsure. Sometimes it can be a curio carving that was bought on vacation relatively cheap and has sentimental value, especially if it was a gift. You have to gauge whether you want to take your time repairing or fixing it, as it can sometimes be a lengthy process. Certainly earlier works should not be touched, if you know its provenance then it should remain with its scratches and cracks intact. This adds to its authenticity.
The worst thing to do is put oil on your sculpture. Your sculpture does not have oil on it, but wax which makes it shiny and glossy.
Indoor sculptures will only require dusting like any other ornament.
Outdoor pieces however lose their gloss after a few years if they’re polished and will need maintaining. If they are unpolished they can be left and just cleaned with a damp cloth. If they have the rough texture and have started growing lichen on this can be cleaned with a brush and soapy water, but be careful not get close to any polished parts as the brush could scratch that area. The same applies if birds have decided to take a liking to your sculpture – clean with a soft damp cloth if polished, or a brush if rough textured.
Rewaxing a sculpture is fairly easy, you just need a hot day! The Zimbabwean carvers use a special wax called Cobra, which is a furniture or floor wax for wood. This can be substituted for beeswax or any furniture wax that has no artificial colour or chemical.
The heat, whether from the sun or an artifical source (professional sculptors use hand-held blow-torches) expands the pores of the stone to the point of the stone feeling warm to touch. At this point, with your finger-tips, apply a thin layer of the wax in circular motions over the area which needs it most – massage your sculpture! You will see that the wax melts into the stone depending how warm the stone has become in the sun, otherwise it will just absorb into the stone slowly. Leave it absorbing until the sun has gone and the stone has cooled down. Then take a slightly damp warm soapy cloth and repeat the circular motions all over the area you’ve waxed. This should bring the sculpture up to its former gleaming glory. If it doesn’t work the first time, several attempts maybe required, especially if it has been left a long time unwaxed.
Repairing scratches and chips
Repairing scratches and chips is more complicated of course. The severity and depth of the scratch will determine the type of wet and dry sandpaper you should choose. You will see the sandpaper removes the wax finish, but do not panic, you can bring it back if you follow these basic steps. Wet and dry sandpapers used for this job range from 320 which is the coarsest (for deep scratches) to 1200 grit, for slight scuff marks. If you start with 320, you ‘have’ to follow through with every grade thereafter until 1200 so it leaves a perfectly smooth surface. If it’s not too bad a scratch try starting with 320, 620 and 1000 only. Sometimes you can buy multipacks. Try and only sand the area that has been effected, as if you go overboard it will be more work to rewax it after. Wet your sandpapers, then using small circular motions go over the scratch/es – gradually work your way up the grits on the same area/s. If you wait for it to dry in between sanding, you will see your progress. Then you will have to rewax your sculpture as above.
Repairing a broken sculpture
Repairing a broken sculpture really needs a professional. If you contact us we know a few local contacts in your area that could help. If we are exhibiting near you, please take full advantage and come to visit us with the piece or if it’s too big to move we can come to an arrangement.
Mounting your sculpture
We recommend mounting your sculpture on some sort of base. Not only does a base give your sculpture an extra air of importance, not to mention added value, it also protects it from being knocked over or scratched if its directly on the floor.
With taller, more top-heavy sculptures, we drill the sculptures so you can mount them on to a stainless threaded bar pin (these do not expand with weather) which are drilled into the base. See ‘Is Your Sculpture Safe Outdoors?’ below for a picture of installation.
If you are wondering which type of base for your sculpture, there are several choices depending on your style of living. The bases below are made of local stone. You can easily find out where your local ‘stone quarry’ is to you on Google and get blocks made to your exact measures, they can also pre-drill, deliver and even install it for a price!
Below are some ideas of bases;
At our exhibitions we mount our sculptures on wooden tree trunks as these are the least expensive and quick to install. These are great if your sculpture is not heavy, as obviously, even if the wood is treated, it will eventually rot and will need replacing. This is not a permanent solution.
Otherwise, if your sculpture is small and for indoors, you can ask your local carpenter or stone quarry to make something for you. An indoor base can be made of wood, plywood, fibre or stone. We found natural products compliment the stone more, see the following examples;
Is your sculpture safe outdoors in cold weather?
One of the most asked questions at our exhibitions! A stone sculpture will only have a problem if it is bought with a problem in it already. If the sculpture has a flaw or a crack in the surface, water can penetrate into that area and in freezing conditions can damage the sculpture, either by expanding the stone or in the worse case scenario splitting it altogether. The sculptor usually IS aware of the stone having a flaw in it from initiation as the stone doesn’t resonate the normal crisp tone as if it were perfect. It would make a dull sound on impact. Most reputable sculptors abandon the stones at an early stage if they feel it is flawed.
All of our sculptures are checked rigourously before even leaving Zimbabwe – once when they are initially bought from the sculptor and again when they are brought back to our Studio. They are then checked by our expert team of artists who work with us when packing our work to go to exhibitions. We have never knowingly sent a sculpture to an exhibition with a flaw in it, not only would this be misrepresenting to the customer that all of our sculptures are okay in cold climates, but it would be an expensive exercise for us too – it takes up valuable space in our shipment!
As we present our sculptures in an outdoor setting we are confident that these can stay in an outdoor environment forever, unless otherwise stated. The stone has lived for millions of years in a mountain, there’s no reason, despite it being sculpted with, that it cannot live another million years!
Here are some pictures clients have very kindly shared with us of their sculpture/s in ALL seasons… and in this link.