Monday, June 13, 2016


Let's say you have an original Bertoia sculpture. First off, congratulations on your good taste and wise investment! Secondly, you may wonder how to best care for your piece. It depends on what's going on.

DUST & GRIME: Unless you have a fragile delicate piece, most Bertoias can stand a gentle spray of plain water. Take it outside, turn on your spray hose and wash it down. Make sure to dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. You won't want to leave water spots or give it a chance to rust. If it's still really grimy, take a dab of mild dish soap (such as Ivory Liquid) and mix with warm water. With an old toothbrush or gentle brush, lightly scrub your sculpture. It may be difficult to reach inside or deep in the curves, but just do your best. Then rinse with plain water, and then dry it off. Most metal sculptures are fairly robust. Unless you use intense chemicals, you probably won't hurt it.

DISCOLORATION, RUST, WHITE SPOTS: HarryBertoia foundation recommends a cleaning product called CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust) to remove light spots. Follow instructions on the container. Don't let it sit on the surface for too long as it may begin to eat away at the metal or the patina. Do NOT use sandpaper or a metal brush – it is too rough and will destroy the surface of the metal. If your sculpture has acquired an undesirable greenish coating, the above should help.

NON-PATINATED METAL: If you have, for example, a sounding sculpture that was once shiny and bright but has darkened considerably, it is OK to shine it up again, in our opinion. If you plan to sell it soon, or place it in an exhibition, or display it publicly, it would be best to check with your auctioneer or museum director, as they may have other ideas. The metal polish called MAAS (available at works really well. Follow package directions. Make sure you get all the polish off and rub with a soft clean cloth.

CENTENNIAL TABLE TONAL: These limited edition sculptures are not patinated, so you can polish them as desired, as specified above for non-patinated metal. If your piece has collected dust or pet hair between the rods, take a strip of cloth or Q-tip and slide it back and forth until the dust is removed.

BENT ROD: If a rod of a tonal has accidentally been bent out of place or pushed in, disrupting the orderly placement, you can bend it back with patience and gentleness. Simply pull, or push, about halfway up the rod, in the opposite direction slightly further than the original position. If it’s in the middle and you can only reach the top of the rod, then go ahead and put your finger on top of it and push slightly past the right place. Make sure you don’t mistakenly pull along a straight rod. If it's still not right, do it again. Do it in small increments. Once you are satisfied with the position, that’s all there is to it. If they are too damaged you will need to have a professional handle it. If the rod is bent at an angle, chances are slim that you will be able to repair it because it may break before you can get it back in position.

PROFESSIONAL REPAIRS: If your art is badly damaged or in need of serious conservation, there is hope. There may be capable metalsmiths or art conservators in your area, but we have found experienced Bertoia repair sources:

Good luck!