Recommended Yearly Sculpture Care
Oxidation (rusting) of steel and iron is progressive and may be a concern, especially if your sculpture is outdoors and exposed to moisture. To protect your sculpture from the elements, annual care is recommended:
1) Inspect the surface of your sculpture for rusting. Any heavy rust scaling should be removed with a wire brush.
2) The undersurface of the sculpture base should be sprayed with an outdoor metal paint such as Rustoleum. I like "Rustoleum for Heavily Rusted Metal."
3) Protect the surface of your sculpture with a clear coat of any satin urethane spray. I like "Satin Urethane Wood Finish."
Please read the discussion below for more information on sculpture care.
Care & Maintenance of Your Hardy Jones Welded Steel Sculpture
Rust, The Elements, & Recommendations
I thought I was going to get out of here without having to worry about the issue of rust, but...this year (2002), I witnessed my first "rust through" failure on the base of one of my oldest welded steel garden sculptures. This particular piece, exposed to the elements for the past two decades, is in my garden, and its base (in this case, an automotive break drum approximately 3/16" thick) is of a thin plate metal. While the sculpture itself is fine, I have recently had to redo the base. However, I want to alert my friends and clients owning any of my pieces that you may wish to consider protecting your sculpture for the long term. In fact, I am now spraying pieces that leave the studio with a coat of satin urethane and undercoating the bases with Rustoleum. I actually am pleased with the appearance using these products.
In most cases, I doubt rust will ever cause a problem, even if left untreated. Nevertheless, all steel will rust and, depending upon its thickness and exposure, may require protection. There is no difference between the steel of the Golden Gate Bridge, railroad hardware, and the found metal treasures I use in my creations. In fact, they may be one and the same! However, the care and maintenance of each is particular to its thickness and circumstance. The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly exposed to the moist salty air and rainy weather of the San Francisco headlands; for protection, the bridge is painted yearly. Yet, in contrast, a railroad rail is never protected, and may last 150 years or more.
You may wish to check your piece. Where there is a concern, I now recommend a yearly spraying with a non-glossy (satin) urethane coat to protect your sculpture, especially if it is outdoors, exposed to moisture or ocean air, or has thinner metal. A little rust is to be expected with time, and I rather like the hue of rust. However, if you have rusting and scaling, it may be best to spray your sculpture with urethane after first wire brushing to remove any heavy rust scale, if any. Also, if the sculpture is mounted on a thin metal base (such as a plow disc or break drum), you may wish to coat the base with Rustoleum. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call me at (650)941-9785. Also, if you would like me to take a look, or would like to first see the effects of urethane on metal sculpture, you may also visit me in the studio.