Tag Archive for: artistic process

Spring Cleaning: Restoring Outdoor Furniture

30 Apr
April 30, 2014


Spring is here and its time to unpack your outdoor furniture from storage and return them to your yard or patio. The sense of excitement seeing your outdoor furniture for the first time in months is like running into an old friend. However, this sense of excitement can often be dampened when you start noticing the details. You can’t help but think, was that there when I put it away in the fall?

It’s to be expected; after all, outdoor furniture faces particularly harsh conditions facing the elements year after year. So we have to ask, are your well-loved outdoor metal pieces not looking their best? Now is a great time to refurbish your outdoor furniture and Artisan Restoration International is here to help.


We offer a wide range of restoration services to rejuvenate worn-out outdoor metal pieces.

Basic Repairs. In addition to sun and rain, your outdoor furniture faces a myriad of psychical stress. Pieces that rock, swivel, or recline are at particular risk for breaking/damage. It is important to ensure your furniture is safe to use. We offer repairs such as re-attaching chair legs and securing loose joints by re-welding them. So no matter how hard kids play on them, or how many linebacker-figured relatives sit on them again and again, your outdoor furniture will be sure to last.


A fresh coat of paint. It’s amazing how a change of color can affect the atmosphere of a space. We offer a broad spectrum of patinas, powder coats, and paints. When it comes to paint, metal furniture traditionally has a rather limited range of color options (black, white, brown) but you’d be amazed at what adding pastel tones or a bold saturated primary color can do to punch up your outdoor living space.

For metal materials patinas and powder coating are available. A new patina not only brings new color, but also helps protect from weathering or corrosion. Here are some of the patina samples we’ve used recently


Powder coating comes in a broad range of colors, provides protection, and lasts for up to ten years.

Refurbishing outdoor furniture is great way to turn generic pieces into something uniquely yours. Contact us today at info@greatlakesartstudio.com or 847-213-0800 to get started on restoring your outdoor furniture!

Creating Modern Urns for Soldier Field Using Old-World Techniques

11 Mar
March 11, 2014

In The Studio


One of our favorite things about the work we do at Great Lakes Art Studio is tackling new and artistic challenges. One of the more recent challenges we’ve faced was creating six, large bronze planters for Chicago’s Soldier Field.

The process began about four years ago when a landscape architect approached us with the task of designing three 3-feet wide bronze planters that would match an existing bronze mural dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces.

Although the planters were supposed to have a simple, smooth round shape, the project was complex because they were so massive and each one needed to be identical.

Before we began, I headed out to Soldier Field to take a look at the bronze mural. Dedicated in November 1925, the mural depicts soldiers and their families in front of the Chicago skyline, cast in beautiful detail in a rich, chocolate-colored bronze. I took photos of the patina of the mural, so I could accurately replicate the same shade on the new planters a few weeks later.

Back in the studio, Richard and I began making a model of the new vessels out of clay. We started by shaping the base on the pottery wheel, and then added more clay to the sides, making it taller as we went. To ensure that the sides were uniform, we built a 5-foot wide wooden platform that spun around, so we could see the model from all directions.

Once we had the clay model finished, we made a sturdier plaster mold, and then a third mold out of sand, which we then used to cast the shape in hot, molten bronze.

Finally, it was time to match the patina of the planters with the original patina on the mural. To change the color of bronze, minerals from the earth such as ferric nitrate or sodium thiosulfate are combined with water, and then sprayed onto the sculpture before using a blow torch to accelerate the oxidation process. The heat creates a chemical reaction with the minerals, causing the metal to change colors.

I love this part of the process because I feel like a painter, using my instincts to create just the right mixture of minerals to create the shades we desire.

Despite all of the new technologies available in the world, when it comes to creating a sculpture out of bronze, we use the same methods that artisans have been using for centuries. Every time I build a sculpture with my hands or create a mold out of sand or wax, I feel as if I’m connect to the ancient Egyptians or ancient Greeks, who did the exact same things thousands of years ago.

In the end, the planters were delivered to the stadium, and now they stand as proud sentinels along the walkway to the memorial. I hope you can check them out the next time you’re at a Bear’s game!


Finished Urns at Solider Field

Finished Urns at Solider Field