How To Get The Right Finish

Applying the right finish and representing an authentic patina, one that the original artist intended for, is quite a complicated procedure and may even be the most challenging part of working a foundry. Yet, as with most things, proper preparation, excellent communication, and an awareness and acceptance of individual manufacturing and finishing pitfalls.


A lack of a proper or any plan – especially for the end bit of the project – is frequently the cause of several problems. And it is understandable as well! People rightly spend most of their time producing the master cast and pattern, often with tiny margins for error because of their tight and time-stingy deadlines.


With such taxing conditions, ‘tomorrow’ becomes the arbitrary and never-coming date to start finishing the finishing process clearly and to specifications. And with all decisions made under such pressuring conditions, success is not guaranteed but gambled. So, maintain the patina as a fundamental part instead of a thing tacked on the whole.

Offer ‘Patineur swatches’ to your clients at the start. Not all or many of them will be familiar or accustomed to what your foundry offers as finishes, so it is essential to give them an idea, so you do not have to make it for them that may or may not have their approval. Offer a collaboration with the customer on the matters of the patina. They will talk of their mental image or feeling of how the end product will seem; meanwhile, you will advise them on any impracticalities and strategise a sober and realistic path to achieve their vision.


Show them already finished examples of your work or the work of others to give them something to latch on to or juxtapose their imagination against. Offering them high-quality photographs or faithful 3D models can help in the quest for their vision as well. Make note that the end product’s patination cannot be an exact copy without an extreme amount of effort and luck – even when the founder knows or even has a copy of the original’s application technique and its chemical formula.

Remember the surface texture, scale, and the model’s overall form when selecting a finish. They can affect the final appearance significantly, so the patineur swatches may not accurately represent the final product. In a similar vein, patinas that seem swell on small or simple structures can look vulgar on a bigger or more complex one. And finally, patination chemicals are predictable finishes. A founder may achieve something nearly resembling it. Still, it is impractical and more than optimistic that they will replicate a precise paint on the cast’s surface with such tools.


About price quotations, foundries specialising in ‘fine-art’ add an allowance concerning patinas. While they base the cost on the average foundry finish, if the asked for patination is particularly taxing, a review followed by an adjustment will come shortly. The fee – unless otherwise stated – usually foregoes the treatment of a cast’s hollow interior or an application of guards against corrosion to any auxiliary structure, like subframes or support armatures. All parties involved must clear up every unique or unorthodox patina requirement during the early stages of development. This process avoids a lot of inevitable confusion and or fighting regarding payment responsibilities.

Requested re-patination of a structure, where the patina came client-approved, yet was still rejected for non-workmanship reasons incurs a fine or additional charge. Re-patination is often a costly affair, which may involve removing any surface deposits and any protective layer made of wax or lacquer. Agree in advance of the application, a deliberate, detailed definition or a diverse accepted range for the end product’s patina to avoid such excess money and time sinks.


Talking and thinking about these problems may lead to an assumption that they are everyday occurrences. However, most projects are produced without a hitch and with the artist’s approval and satisfaction in actuality. Great founders may mentor the procedure and provide experience-ladened advice, especially expertise in this case. Avoid any non-standard patinations unless the inherent qualities of the project or the whims and wishes of the client force it. Test any such procedures appropriately to avoid any future expense or unsatisfying structure comprehensively.