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Do It Yourself (DIY) Patina Process

Once your sculpture has been bisque fired, it will be a dull white in color with no reflection.  Some students prefer it white and patina their piece in a white paint and white metal wax.  Most others prefer a darker patina.  Below are the steps I use to achieve those results.


Step One:  Spray the entire sculpture with flat black spray paint making sure you get in all the crevices, under the chin and nose and in the ears and eyes. Allow time to dry.  Skip this step if you're going with a white patina.


Step Two:  Stipple on the preferred undercoat color of paint.  Allow time to completely dry especially inside eyes and ears.  Check the dryness in the eyes and ears with a Q-Tip.  If you use a “chip” brush (see below) to stipple, make sure there isn’t any brush hairs left on the sculpture.


Step Three:  Stipple on the preferred color of metal wax in a cool environment as it will cure quickly in the hot sun.  The metal wax has a pungent order that will dissipate in a day or two.  I leave my finished (patina) sculpture in the garage for at least 24 hours before it is displayed.  Keep in mind, longer you leave on the metal wax, the darker the wax will be and the undertone will be less obvious.


  • If you want more of the undercoat showing and the black wax only in the crevices, quickly wipe or buff with a lint-free cloth such as microfiber (I use an old cotton tee-shirt) after to apply the metal wax.


  • If you want less undercoat and a darker finish, allow the metal wax to cure for about 30-45 minutes.  Then buff with the lint-free cloth like microfiber or an old cotton tee-shirt.


  • Step Two – NOTE: I use a light color (grey or brown) of latex paint from Home Depot.  The metal wax will darken your preferred undercoat color.  You can get samples for about $3.50.  I use the metal waxes on all of my sculptures.


  • Note: There are examples of these techniques on the wall (expression castings) in my studio.


Brushes:  I use a “chip” brush and throw away afterwards.


For those of you who want a bronze look on your piece.  I don’t use bronze paint anymore because I had to explain that is was a “faux” bronze.   I must say that some of my students love metal coatings.


Sculpt Nouveau in Escondido carries a variety of colors of metal coatings (order type B) and metal waxes (sealers).  The 8 ounce jar of metal wax should cover 2 or 3 sculptures.  I have use the black and brown metal waxes with the bronze metal coating.



Sculpt Nouveau has a lot of information on their website and they will answer the phone if you have questions.


Sculpt Nouveau – “When applying, smooth down any ridges or bumps. Stippling with a brush may be the preferred method of application so as to not create streaking on the surface. Try not to let the clear wax fill up in any recessed areas as it may turn opaque when dry. Build up in recessed areas may be desirable with the colored waxes. 

Burnish the finish when the wax is dry (usually 1-2 hours). The colored waxes generally take longer to dry. If you are applying the wax to a hot surface, let the surface cool down completely, then buff. Use a lint-free cloth (such as a microfiber cloth) to buff. Do not wait too long as the wax will become too hard to burnish.”

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