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As a result of working for over 30 years in the art of bronze patination, Patrick Kipper has one of the largest patina palettes nationally and internationally.

About 10 years ago, Patrick had to reduce his clientele from over 200 to just over 20 of his best clients. As a result, Patrick no longer takes on new full time clients on small works. From time to time, however, he does take on projects involving small Desert Solitaire by Steve Kestralpieces of great value or importance and readily takes on life size and monumental bronze projects that may be a one time deal or have only a few within the cast edition. (Please contact Patrick if you are requesting his services for one of the above projects mentioned).

Patrick consults with sculptors, patineurs, museum, and gallery personnel on a daily basis to help solve existing problems such as patina application, choosing the right patina, how to handle problems that arise as a result of incorrect patina applications, and much more.

Patrick has written and self published the book “Patinas for Silicon Bronze:” a step by step instruction manual of the various patina processes used on bronze artwork.

Patrick gives patina workshops in his private studio in Loveland, Colorado every other year, as well as foundries and schools, when asked, both in the private and public sector, nationally and internationally.

Patrick specializes in hot patina processes---which literally means that the surface of the bronze needs to be hot in order to apply the chemical compounds that make the patina. The trick is, in many instances, to apply a chemical layer of coloration which is only a few microns thick to a bronze surface. Some of these micron thick layers of color may need to result in the illusion of being over a foot deep. Other Flea Flicker by Tim Cherrypatina processes can leave the newly cast surfaces of a particular bronze appearing to be as old as the bronze age itself. Still other patinas can make the surface of a cast bronze sculpture look as though it is made from another medium such as wood, marble, or granite.

Patrick applies both traditional and contemporary styled patinas.

Traditional patinas are those that are most expected to be seen on older bronze surfaces such as opaque and/or transparent browns, old world greens, museum blacks, etc.

Contemporary patinas are those that are used mostly on minimalist sculpted surfaces, i.e., smooth and/or very little surface texture, which are seen mostly in the groups of stone patinas, resembling marble and granite, or other materials, such as wood.

The newer formulated patina processes known as “crackle patinas” are also part of this contemporary listing of patinaed finishes. Although crackle patinas are not listed in his patina book, they are taught in Patrick’s Patina workshops.

Passing the Legacy monument by Herb Mignery, Scottsdale, AZ

What are patinas?

Historically, patina has most commonly been defined as the coloration of metals and woods brought about by the oxidation of surfaces caused by extended exposure to its immediate atmosphere.

Patina Categories:  Natural and Artificial

There are actually two categories of patinas for bronze: Natural and Artificial or Faux.

Giddyap by Wayne Salge

The historical definition above describes the first category of patinas—Natural: colorations exhibited on bronze objects (artifacts) which have been exhumed from  soil or sea, as seen most commonly on old Chinese and Greek bronze objects. The color range is usually much more limited to blues, greens, blacks, reds, and the like. They may be bright or dull depending on the soil makeup, i.e.; more acidic or alkaline, wet or dry, etc.

Artificial patinas, on the other hand are just that, they are applied by hand and coloration only takes a few seconds as opposed to the many years of natural patinas.

Other terms describing artificial patinas in a subcategory are faux or “buried patinas”.

These types of patinas are created by burying the bronze in mediums such as sand, sawdust, and kitty litter (used kitty litter has a much greater impact on coloration) saturated with various solutions such as old wine, urine, ammonia, or sour milk. Various chemicals used in the chemical patina processes, such as cupric nitrate, can be mixed into the solution, and then mixed into the burying medium.

The bronze object is then buried in this mixture and checked periodically over a few day's time to see how coloration is coming along. Chief Washakie monument by Richard GreevesWhen the desired coloration is achieved, the bronze is unburied, rinsed with water, and left to cure for a few days prior to handling. At that point, it is usually waxed, if necessary, to protect the delicate coloration process.

The drawback from this type of patina as well as natural patinas is time. Most sculptors do not have days, much less weeks, months, or years, to wait
for their work to be completed.

This leads us to the two categories that patina applications are most commonly divided into: Hot and Cold;the difference between the two applications being the temperature of the metal’s surface for coloration results. Buried patinas are a cold application process.

Although there are many cold application techniques or recipes, the overall consensus is that cold patinas take too long, are quite fragile, and take much more care than hot patinas.

Hot patinas are by far the most common and versatile of all patina processes and the type that 99% of foundries and artists, world wide, use for themselves and/or their clients. Bison Medallion by Tim CherryThey are usually much more durable and very fast to produce—taking only seconds in many cases, depending of course on the size and amount of surface.

In a hot patina, the bronze surface is usually heated by propane torch. Ovens are also used when available, but limit the size of the bronze that can be heated as well as other techniques and effects like “flashing” chemical colorations, which can only be produced with the use of a torch and/or open flame.

The final stage of every patina is sealing it from the immediate atmosphere.

As with patinas, sealers vary: from paste waxes to lacquers and wax. The type of patina and the severity of it’s atmosphere usually determine the type of sealer to be used.

In most cases, when bronze sculpture is being placed in a more severe atmosphere, outdoors for example, lacquer coatings followed by paste wax finishes are highly recommended. Also, some chemical applications and effects are more sensitive to waxes verses lacquer coatings.

Seal Watcher by Tim Cherry

Within the “wax coatings only” type sealing, there are two paths of waxing, hot and cold.

Bronze study of Sacagawea dollar coin by Glenna GoodacreWhen a bronze patina is to be “hot waxed”, the surface of the bronze is hot when the paste wax is applied (most commonly with a brush) and is usually executed immediately after the patina has been completed.

A “cold wax” application is of course, applied when the metal is cold.

Hot wax coatings usually change the coloration and effect of a patina much more than a cold wax treatment, but the hot wax treatment is much more durable.

The most durable sealer of course would be the lacquer coatings, followed by cold waxing a layer or two.

Basket Dancers monument by Glenna Goodacre

Patinas for Silicon Bronze by Patrick V. Kipper

For more information on the hot patina process
and 72 application recipes along with color plates,
please see my book: “Patinas for Silicon Bronze”.

Home  |  Conservation & Restoration  |  Patina  |  Gallery  |  Workshops  |  Books  |  About Patrick  |  Photo Credits
Patrick Kipper
138 12th St SE
Loveland, CO 80537 USA
970-663-3363  Fax 970-663-0982
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